Fisheries - Sea Fisheries

High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: September 2014: Sea Fisheries

The graph below displays the value of all landings by Scottish based vessels for the years 2009 – 2013.

Value of landing by Scottish vessels: 2009 - 2013

The total value of sea fish and shellfish landed by Scottish vessels in 2013 was £430 million, a decrease of nine per cent in real terms compared with 2012. The quantity of sea fish and shellfish landed was 366, 671 tonnes, under half a per cent more than in 2012.

The decrease in value of fish landings in 2013 is a result of reductions in the overall value of all species types. The very slight increase in overall volume landed was a result of increased demersal landings counter-balanced by decreased shellfish landings:

  • Pelagic – value decreased by nine per cent,  volume slightly increased by one per cent
  • Demersal – value decreased by four per cent, volume increased by seven per cent
  • Shellfish – value decreased by 14 per cent, volume decreased by 10 per cent

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 2013, the proportion of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where the total allowable catch was set in line with scientific guidance was 47 per cent. In 2012, 66 per cent of the TAC of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks was set in line with scientific guidance. The 19 percentage point decrease in the proportion of fish stocks where TAC was set in line with scientific guidance observed for 2013 compared with 2012 was a substantial change (out with three percentage points) indicating performance worsening.

The main reason for this decrease is the North East Atlantic mackerel crisis.  A dispute between Coastal States (including the EU, Norway, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Russia) on the management of this fishery has been on-going between since 2008.  As a result the stock has been fished above total catch advised by ICES for a number of years.  However, agreement on the TAC and fishing shares was finally reached between the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands in London in March 2014.  This is an important breakthrough and returns this stock – Scotland’s most valuable – towards more sustainable international management.

Although Iceland did not sign the agreement, a portion of the TAC has been set aside for them to join a later stage, thereby returning the stock once more to full international and sustainable management.

The London agreement set the 2014 TAC at 1.24 million tonnes.  Although significantly above the ICES advice for 2014 (around 900,000 tonnes), this can be justified as the only way to get the fishery back under control in the medium term: no international agreement was possible otherwise, and fishing levels would be even higher if there had been no agreement  Part of the London agreement was that the TAC for following years 2015 – 2018 will return to the ICES advice and a new long term management plan is to be agreed during 2014.

    Scotland Marine Environment - Fish Stock - upto 2013

The proportion of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where the TAC was set in line with scientific guidance currently stands at 47 per cent. This is 23 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 2013 was estimated by 2012 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.