Inshore fisheries and coastal communities


Scotland’s inshore waters extend from the coast out to 12 nautical miles (NM), with a concentration of fishing taking place within 6 NM.

There are over 2,000 active Scottish fishing vessels and three quarters of them fish primarily in inshore waters. Typically these are smaller boats of 8-10 metres in length with one or two crew members, fishing daily from local ports.

The inshore fleet is diverse and includes trawlers, creelers, netters, dredgers and divers. Hand gatherers may collect cockles from the foreshore. Shellfish is the main target – brown and velvet crab, lobster, scallops and Nephrops (langoustines).

Inshore fishing is mostly conducted by one of two methods:

  • static gear fishing for crabs, lobster and Nephrops by placing baited pots or creels on the sea bed
  • mobile gear fishing involving the towing of gear behind a vessel, such as nets for Nephrops or dredges for scallops


Find out more about our actions relating to:


Although the European Union (EU) is responsible for much of the legislation relating to sea fisheries, the UK has exclusive rights to fish within 6 NM of its coastline. Fishing by non-UK vessels between 6 and 12 NM is restricted to countries with historic rights relating to specific fisheries.

Through devolution, Scottish Ministers are responsible for the regulation of sea fishing around Scotland and within 12 NM of Scotland's coast. We have the ability to take non-discriminatory conservation measures, provided that the EU has not already legislated in this area.

Engaging with others

We work closely with the following groups:

Archived content

More information about previous engagement activities is in our website archive:

Public meetings:

Advisory and working groups:


Bills and legislation

The Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 allows regulation of the size of fish landed, gear type that can be used, and restrictions on species that can be landed.

The Sea Fish (Shellfish) Act 1967 allows local management of fisheries through the granting of Several and/or Regulating Orders.

The Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984 allows regulation of species fished, location and the methods as well as vehicles used.

The Shellfish (Restrictions on Taking by Unlicensed Fishing Boats) (Scotland) Order 2017 sets daily restrictions on taking by unlicensed boats.



Telephone: 0300 244 4000


Marine Scotland
Area 1B South
Victoria Quay

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