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Fisheries - Sea Fisheries

High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: September 2016: Sea Fisheries

The graph below displays the value of all landings by Scottish based vessels for the years 2011 – 2015.HLSS chart 1 final 2015

The total value of fish landed by Scottish registered vessels in 2015 was £437 million, a decrease of 15 per cent in real terms compared with 2014. The quantity of fish landed decreased eight per cent to 440,047 tonnes.

The 15 per cent decrease in the real term value of landings was driven predominantly by a decrease in value and quantity of landings of pelagic species. Shellfish landings also experienced a decrease in value and quantity, while demersal species had a small decrease in value and an increase in the quantity of landings:

•             Pelagic – 27 per cent decrease in value, 12 per cent decrease in volume

•             Demersal – one per cent decrease in value, two per cent increase in volume

•             Shellfish – 11 per cent decrease in value, six per cent decrease in volume

The Scottish Government has set a National Indicator to improve the state of Scotland’s marine environment. The indicator measures the proportion of key Scottish commercial species landed by Scottish fishing vessels where the total allowable catch (TAC) limit is consistent with the scientific guidance. Some of our key stocks have been at historically low levels in recent years and we want to ensure that fish stocks are healthy and sustainable for future generations.

In 2015, the proportion (calculated as a three-year moving average) of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where the quota (Total Allowable Catch (TAC)) was set in line with scientific guidance was 57 per cent. In 2014, this figure was 40 per cent. The 17 percentage point increase in the proportion of fish stocks where quota was set in line with scientific guidance observed for 2015 compared with 2014 was a substantial change (out-with three percentage points) indicating performance improving.

The main reason for this increase is the 2016 TAC for mackerel being set in accordance with scientific guidance, guided by a new internationally agreed Long Term Management Strategy for the stock.

The high market value of mackerel has a significant effect on the centred three year average of the indicator. Several years of international disputes on management of the stock, and then of TACs being set above scientific guidance in order to resolve these disputes, depressed the level of the indicator. However, the switch of this stock into the group for which TACs now respect scientific guidance has led to the observed increase in the value of the indicator.

Additionally, 2016 TACs also saw similar and much welcome shifts for some other important and valuable stocks. In particular, the long awaited improvement in the fortunes of North Sea cod that was evidenced in the 2015 scientific advice enabled the EU/Norway negotiations to set a 2016 TAC respecting this advice

Finally, following the development of a new Long Term Management Strategy in 2014 that was evaluated as precautionary (or safe) by scientists in 2015, the EU/Norway negotiations were also able to set a 2016 TAC for North Sea herring that respected scientific guidance.

HLSS chart 2 final 2015

The proportion of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where the TAC was set in line with scientific guidance currently stands at 57 per cent. This is 13 percentage points below the 2015 target level.


Note (1): Stocks for which there was no available scientific advice for the year, or where the advice was unclear, have been counted as if the TAC was not consistent with the advice.

Note (2): For each year, the calculation of the proportion of fish stocks used data weighted by value for that year. Landings data for 2016 was estimated by 2015 landings data.

Note (3): Each point on the graph refers to the proportion of fish stocks where the TAC was set within scientific advice calculated over the three year period centred on that year.