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Commercial Fishing Fish Facts



Latest figures show a small increase in volume landed for the Scottish fleet and that in 2017 Scottish-registered fishing vessels landed 466 thousand tonnes of sea fish and shellfish with a value of £560 million. This is a three per cent increase in tonnage and a one per cent decrease in the real value (adjusted for inflation) from 2016.

There were 2,065 active Scottish registered fishing vessels in 2017, an increase of 32 vessels from 2016 due to growth in the 10-metre and under fleet. The number of fishers working on these vessels was 4,799, which is almost consistent (less than one per cent change) with 2016 (4,823).

These figures update the Provisional Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics that were published in May 2018.

Landings by Scottish vessels in 2017

  • Summary of landings value and tonnage by species type in 2017, and percentage change from 2016[1]
  Tonnage Change Value (£000) Change
Demersal 101,864 7% 183,841 7%
Pelagic 301,352 2% 197,088 13%
Shellfish 62,493 2% 179,531 6%
TOTAL 465,710 3% 560,460 -1%

 Pelagic species

Over 301 thousand tonnes of pelagic fish worth £197 million were landed by Scottish vessels in 2017, a two per cent increase in tonnage and 13 per cent decrease in real value. Mackerel remains the most valuable stock to the Scottish fleet, accounting for 29 per cent (£162 million) of the total value of fish landings by Scottish vessels. In 2017 the real value of mackerel landings decreased by six per cent, driven by the five per cent decrease in the tonnage of mackerel. Total tonnage of pelagic landings, however, increased due to increased landings of blue whiting, which is primarily caught for industrial use and attracts much lower prices.

Demersal species

Landings of demersal species increased in tonnage and value by seven per cent to 102 thousand tonnes worth £184 million. The top three species haddock, monkfish and cod all increased in tonnage and value. These species combined account for 20 per cent of the total value of all Scottish landings.

Shellfish species

Relative to 2016, the tonnage of shellfish species fell to 63 thousand tonnes (two per cent) and value increased almost £180 million (six per cent). Nephrops remain the most valuable shellfish species to the Scottish fleet, accounting for 13 per cent (£75 million) of the total value of all Scottish fish landings. In 2017, the real value of Nephrops landings decreased by four per cent and the tonnage increased by three per cent.

 Landings destination

In 2017, Scottish vessels landed 59 per cent by tonnage and 73 per cent by value into Scotland. Landings into the rest of the UK accounted for only three per cent by tonnage and five per cent by value and the remainder was landed abroad, with 39 per cent by tonnage 22 per cent by value landed abroad. The top three destinations abroad were Norway, the Republic of Ireland and Denmark.

Quota Uptake by vessels in Scottish Producer Organisations

In 2017, quota uptake was at or below quota for all key quota stocks except West of Scotland mackerel at 101% uptake. Pelagic species quota uptake was high, above 93% for all stocks. Demersal quota uptake was varied with high uptake for the top three demersal stocks (haddock, monkfish and cod; 76% lowest) and lower uptake for other species (plaice, sole, megrims; 21-55%). Nephrops quota uptake stood at 71 per cent for the West Coast and 87 per cent for the North Sea.

Table 2. Quota Uptake for key stocks in 2017

  North Sea West Coast
Mackerel 100% 101%
Herring 99% 100%
Haddock 92% 97% VIb | 76% VIa
Monkfish 95% 93%
Cod 99% N/A
Nephrops 87% 71%

 Scottish Fishing Fleet  

The number of active fishing vessels registered in Scotland was 2,065 at the end of 2017, representing an increase of 32 vessels (two per cent) from 2016. The number of vessels in:

The 10 metre and under fleet increased by 39 to 1,503 vessels

The over 10 metre fleet decreased by seven to 562 vessels composed of:

  • demersal fleet decreased by three vessels to 184 vessels
  • shellfish fleet decreased by five to 358 vessels
  • pelagic fleet increased by one to 20 vessels

 Fishers Employed

In 2017, the overall number of fishers working on Scottish fishing vessels was reported at 4,799 which is consistent with the figure reported in 2016. Employment in the sea fishing fleet accounted for 0.2 per cent of total employment in Scotland.