Scottish sea fisheries statistics 2018

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Latest figures show that in 2018 Scottish-registered fishing vessels landed 446 thousand tonnes of sea fish and shellfish with a value of £574 million. This is a four per cent decrease in tonnage and a one per cent increase in real terms value (adjusted for inflation) from 2017.

There were 2,089 active Scottish registered fishing vessels in 2018, an increase of 24 vessels from 2017 due to growth in the ten metre and under fleet. The number of fishers working on these vessels was 4,860, which is up one per cent on 2018.

These figures published today update the Provisional Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics that were published in May 2019.

Landings by Scottish vessels in 2018

  • Summary of landings value and tonnage by species type in 2018 and percentage change from 2017 [1]




Value (£000)






















Pelagic species

285 thousand tonnes of pelagic fish worth £202 million were landed by Scottish vessels in 2018, a 6 per cent decrease in tonnage and no change in real terms value. Mackerel remains the most valuable stock to the Scottish fleet, accounting for 29 per cent (£164 million) of the total value of fish landings by Scottish vessels. In 2018 the real terms value of mackerel landings decreased by one per cent while the tonnage of mackerel fell 15 per cent in line with a reduction in available quota.

Demersal species

Landings of demersal species increased in tonnage and value by seven per cent to 108 thousand tonnes worth £201 million (up seven per cent in real terms). Cod overtook haddock as the most valuable demersal species. Cod, haddock and monkfish combined account for 22 per cent of the total value of all Scottish landings.

Shellfish species

Relative to 2017, the tonnage of shellfish species decreased by 15 per cent to 53 thousand tonnes and real terms value decreased six per cent to 63 thousand tonnes. Nephrops remain the most valuable shellfish species to the Scottish fleet, accounting for 11 per cent (£63 million) of the total value of all Scottish vessels’ landings. In 2018, the real terms value of Nephrops landings decreased by 18 per cent and the tonnage decreased by 16 per cent.

Landings destination

In 2018, Scottish vessels landed 62 per cent by tonnage and 74 per cent by value of their landings into Scotland. Scottish vessels’ landings into the rest of the UK accounted for only 3 per cent by tonnage and 5 per cent by value and the remainder was landed abroad (36 per cent by tonnage and 21 per cent by value) [2]. The top three destinations abroad were Norway, the Republic of Ireland and Denmark.

Quota Uptake by vessels in Scottish Producer Organisations

In 2018, quota uptake was at or below quota for all key quota stocks except West of Scotland mackerel at 102% uptake. Pelagic species quota uptake was high, above 99% for all stocks. Demersal quota uptake was varied with high uptake for the top three demersal stocks (haddock, monkfish and cod; 74% lowest) and lower uptake for other species (plaice, sole, megrims; 41-63%). Nephrops quota uptake stood at 71 per cent for the West Coast and 52 per cent for the North Sea.

                                    Table 2. Quota Uptake for key stocks in 2018


North Sea

West Coast









82%(VIb) | 90%(VIa)










Scottish Fishing Fleet

The number of active fishing vessels registered in Scotland was 2,089 at the end of 2018, representing an increase of 24 vessels (one per cent) from 2017. The number of vessels in:

The 10 metre and under fleet increased by 36 to 1,539 vessels

The over 10 metre fleet decreased by 12 to 550 vessels composed of:

  • demersal fleet remained at 184 vessels
  • shellfish fleet decreased by 11 to 347 vessels
  • pelagic fleet decreased by one to 19 vessels

Fishers Employed

In 2018, the overall number of fishers working on Scottish fishing vessels was reported at 4,860 which is up one per cent on 2017. Employment in the sea fishing fleet accounted for 0.2 per cent of total employment in Scotland.


The main source for Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics is the IFISH administrative database containing information on sea fishing activity and catches, including sales details from Registered Buyers and Sellers (RBS). The IFISH database is the UK-wide database containing data from both the Marine Scotland Compass database and the Marine Management Organisation database. Compass is used by Marine Scotland Compliance for sea fisheries protection, based on information supplied by fishing vessels, buyers and sellers. Voyage and landings information is supplied by skippers who, for vessels over 10 metres, are required by EU legislation to maintain logbooks and provide landings declarations. 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 the value of landings, is provided by fish buyers and sellers under EU legislation and is collated and entered at port offices.

Data on employment within the Scottish fishing fleet is collected by Marine Scotland in an annual survey distributed to port offices in each of the 18 Scottish fishing districts.

The Sea Fisheries Data Team will regularly update certain management information such as levels of quota uptake and fish prices. Further information is available on Agriculture and Fisheries statistics within Scotland. National Statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff.

[1] Overall values are given in nominal terms (before adjusting for inflation), but percentage changes are calculated for real values (after adjusting for inflation) to allow valid comparisons over time.

[2] These percentages do not sum to 100 due to rounding.


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