Fresh investment to improve freight handling at a Highland harbour will reduce traffic on Scotland's roads, the Scottish Executive has claimed.
Inverness harbour is deemed one of the most sheltered in Scotland
Transport Minister Tavish Scott has announced funding of £2.3m for Inverness Harbour Trust on the mouth of the River Ness.
Cargo handled at the port includes oil, timber, paper pulp and coal.
The executive said improvements would mean more freight being transported by sea rather than by road.
Mr Scott urged businesses to consider delivering products by ship.
He said: "I would like to see more and more Scottish businesses think about their freight priorities.
"If they do, we will see great benefits for our environment and remove even more traffic from Scotland's congested roads."
Bill Smith, chairman of Inverness Harbour Trust, said: "Small ports have a vital role in taking freight off the road and we hope to start a container feeder service from the city to east coast ports of Scotland and England."
Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, congratulated the trust's work on the expansion project.
He said: "Congestion is a growing problem around Inverness and this new investment will help to take freight off the roads.
"I hope that the harbour expansion will encourage even more business to see the economic and environmental benefits of transporting freight by sea rather than road."