Provisional sea fisheries statistics 2017

A national statistics publication. 

Latest figures show that in 2017, Scottish-registered fishing 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 (<1%) from 2016.

 There were 2,068 active Scottish registered fishing vessels in 2017, an increase of 2% from 2016 due to increases in the 10-metre and under fleet. The number of fishers employed on these vessels was 4,799, which is almost consistent with 2016 (4,823).

Table 1. Landings by Scottish registered vessels




Value (£ mil.)























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. 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. Mackerel prices are now higher in Scotland than abroad, on average, a reversal of the previous trend.

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 landed decreased 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.

The increase in value of the shellfish sector was largely driven by increased value of squid, scallops, edible crabs and lobsters.

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 6 (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 6 (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%.

 Final Statistics

This release publishes provisional National Statistics on Scottish sea fisheries in 2017. Final statistics for 2017 will be published on Thursday 25th September 2018. The final statistics publication includes landings by rest of the UK vessels and foreign vessels and gives breakdowns of landings by port district, country of landing, ICES area and gear types. It also details the structure of the Scottish fleet in terms of vessel capacity, length groups, age and port district. Quota uptake is reported on a wider range of stocks and is broken down in terms of EU Total Allowable Catch (TAC), UK allocation of quota and Scottish Producer Organisation (PO) allocation of quota.

Background Information

  1. Provisional Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics 2017 can be accessed
  1. The main source for Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics is Marine Scotland’s FIN (Fisheries Information Network) and COMPASS administrative databases containing information on sea fishing activity and catch details, including sales details from Registered Buyers and Sellers (RBS). The databases are held by Marine Scotland Compliance, based on information supplied by fishing vessels, buyers and sellers. Where necessary, this is supplemented by information from the equivalent “Rest of the UK” administrative system using data held in the UK data warehouse, IFISH. FIN and COMPASS hold details of all fish landings into Scotland and landings abroad by Scottish based vessels. Voyage and landings information is supplied by skippers who are required by EU legislation to maintain logbooks and provide landings declarations for vessels over 10 metres. Although this EU legislation does not require vessels of 10 metres and under to provide this information, in Scotland they provide equivalent information on FISH1 forms. Data on first sales of fish, which provides information on the value of landings, is provided by fish buyers and sellers under EU legislation on the Register of Buyers and Sellers. Information is collated and entered at port offices and then transmitted to the central server.
  1. Data on employment within the Scottish fishing fleet is collated by Marine Scotland in an annual survey distributed to port offices in each of the 18 Scottish fishing districts. The burden on all respondents for this survey is estimated to total no more than £1,000 each year, based on information obtained from each office on the time taken to complete the return and the grades of staff involved.
  1. The Sea Fisheries Data Team regularly update management information such as levels of quota uptake and fish prices on their website. 
  1. Further information on Agriculture and Fisheries statistics within Scotland.
  1. National Statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of National Statistics in Scotland.


Media enquiries

Back to top