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Commercial Fishing Fish Facts General News


Increase in value and tonnage for Scottish fishing fleet

Increase in value and tonnage for Scottish fishing fleet

Latest figures show that in 2017, Scottish-registered fishing increase in value and tonnage for the Scottish fishing fleet when vessels landed 464 thousand tonnes of sea fish and shellfish with a value of £559 million. This represents an increase of 10,600 tonnes (2%) and £2.6 million (4,823).


Mackerel remains the most valuable stock to the Scottish fleet. It accounted for 29% (£162 million) of the total value of Scottish vessels’ landings. In 2017, Scottish registered vessels landed 5% less mackerel by weight and 4% less by value than in 2016. Of the total weight of mackerel landed by Scottish vessels, 48% was landed into Scotland (51% of tonnage in 2016) and 52% was landed abroad.

Mackerel prices are now higher in Scotland than abroad, on average, a reversal of the previous trend. The average price of mackerel landed abroad decreased 4% to £894 per tonne in 2017, whereas the average price of mackerel landed into Scotland increased 6% to £907 per tonne. In 2017, the weight of herring landed by Scottish vessels decreased by 14% to 56,300 tonnes, and the value decreased by 45% to £24 million. The average price dropped by 36% to £427 per tonne.


Haddock, monkfish and cod are the most valuable demersal species to the Scottish fleet. The value of haddock landings increased by 13% in 2017 to £42 million, with a 14% increase in average price from 2016 to £1,512 per tonne. Tonnage landeddecreased 1% to 27,900 tonnes.

The value of monkfish landings increased 4% to £36 million driven by a 1% increase in average price to £2,778 per tonne and a 3% increase in tonnage to 13,100 tonnes. The tonnage of cod landed in 2017 was 13% higher than in 2016 at 14,700 tonnes. The value of cod increased 24% to £34 million and average price increased by 10% to £2,320 per tonne.


Nephrops (Norway Lobster/Langoustine) are the most valuable shellfish stock, accounting for 42% of shellfish landings, and overall the second most valuable stock to the Scottish fleet. In 2017, the total value of Nephrops was £74 million, which is 3% lower relative to 2016. There was a 2% increase in tonnage landed to 21,500 tonnes and a 5% decrease in average price to £3,460 per tonne.

Scottish fishing fleet

The number of active Scottish registered fishing vessels in 2017 was 2,068, an increase of 41 vessels (2%) from 2016. The change in vessel numbers was largely due to 37 additional creelers of 10m and under.

At the end of 2017, the number of vessels in:

  • The 10 metre and under fleet increased by 45 to 1,506 vessels
  • The over 10 metre fleet decreased by four to 562 vessels – demersal fleet decreased by two vessels to 184 vessels – shellfish fleet decreased by three to 358 vessels – pelagic fleet increased by one vessel to 20 vessels

The longer-term trend indicates that in 2017 there were 108 fewer vessels (5%) than in 2009. This change is composed of 131 fewer over-10 metre vessels (19%) and 23 more 10-metre and under vessels (2%).


In 2017, the overall number of fishers employed on Scottish fishing vessels was reported at 4,799, less than 1% decrease to the figure reported in 2016. However, the number of regularly employed fishers increased by 98 (3%), irregularly employed fishers decreased by 77 (8%) and the number of crofters reported down from 51 to six (88% decrease). This may be partly due to recategorisation between ‘crofters’ and ‘irregularly employed’. The longer-term trend shows that the total number of fishers in the Scottish fleet decreased by 610 (11%) since 2009. The change in regularly employed fishers shows 471 fewer (11%) and 85 fewer irregularly employed fishers (9%). The number of crofters decreased from 60 to six (54 fewer, 90%).

Fish Quota Uptake

Uptake of UK quota by Scottish-registered vessels was high overall for the major pelagic fish stocks at over 90%. West of Scotland mackerel was the only stock over quota, at 101%, while West of Scotland herring uptake was at 93%. Uptake of North Sea mackerel and herring was over 98%. For demersal species, West of Scotland quota uptake for haddock (area VIb) was over 97% and for areas VIa and Vb it was 74%, monkfish at 90%, and cod (area VIb) at 72%. For other West of Scotland demersal stocks quota uptake was varied, ranging from 26% (plaice) to 100% (whiting). North Sea monkfish quota uptake was at 94%, with haddock and cod both at 91%. Other North Sea demersal stocks ranged from 43% (megrim) to 87% (whiting). Quota uptake for West of Scotland Nephrops was 66%, while uptake for North Sea Nephrops was 74%.