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Northern Ireland’s ports handle record tonnage in 12 months to March 2022

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Belfast Harbour

Belfast Harbour

Belfast Harbour

Northern Ireland’s ports handled their highest tonnage over a 12-month period in the year to March 2022, new figures show.

The quarterly statistics from the NI Statistics & Research Agency (Nisra) said Warrenport, Belfast and Larne ports had handled 29.4 million tonnes over the 12 months, which was up 9.1% on the previous 12 months.

It was also the highest tonnage handled by ports in a 12-month period. Total tonnage through UK major ports also rose over the same period by 6.7%. 

Inward traffic to NI’s ports rose by 7.7% to 17.4 million tonnes, while outward traffic rose by 11% to 11.9 million tonnes.

Belfast handled the lion’s share, at 68.3%, with Warrenpoint handling 11.8% and Port of Larne handled 11.4%.

The ports also witnessed the highest number of ‘roll-on roll-off' freight vehicles passing through its ports at 964,120, which was up 12% from 857,626 in the 12 months to March 2021. 

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Nisra said: “The importance of shipping and trade to the economy of the UK, an island nation, has resulted in the establishment of a large number of ports around the coast, which are very diverse in terms of size and type of cargo handled.

"Around 95% by volume of the UK’s international trade is transported by sea.”

This week Belfast Harbour announced it saw record trade during 2021.  There were 25.6 million tonnes of cargo passing through the port — a 9% increase on the 23.5 million a year earlier and 5% above the previous record levels recorded in 2019.

The business said strong trading levels have “benefited from the respective grace periods associated with the implementation of the NI Protocol” along with some diverted traffic from Dublin.


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