Fishing quota - additional allocation from 2024: equality impact assessment

Assessment to ensure that decision, for the allocation of Additional Quota, has due regard to to certain equality considerations.

Stage 1: Framing

Results of framing exercise

Set out here a summary of the initial findings of your framing exercise which helped identify existing evidence and potential impacts.

Because most fishers are male of an average age of 40[1] they are the people most likely to be impacted directly by any change in fisheries policy. Women however may also be owners or have boat/licence shares and therefore any AQ allocations will provide economic benefit to them too. Ancillary support and service sectors will also benefit economically from the additional quota, and it may have economic and social benefits to coastal fishing communities for example by increasing employment opportunities.

Extent/Level of EQIA required

Following gathering and analysing your evidence of the (potential) impacts of your policy on each of the protected characteristics, set out here your consideration of the extent/level of assessment required.

Include any further evidence gathering and external engagement that is required to demonstrate that you are giving “due regard” to the equality duty of eliminating discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity and fostering good relations.

We expect that certain groups of the workforce population could be more heavily impacted by aspects of the policy, because of the demographics of the fishing workforce. These are discussed by protected characteristics below

Protected Characteristic: Age

A Seafish survey from 2021(2021 Employment in the UK Fishing Fleet — Seafish) found that in a sample of vessels from the UK fleet that the average age of crew on the sampled Scottish fleet is around 40 years old. The average age of a worker increases with positions of authority, responsibility and level of skill. Across all sectors skipper/owners tended to be older, followed by skippers, whilst deckhands were the youngest overall.

The survey also found that vessels registered in Scotland employed a lower proportion of workers over 50 This is likely due to the higher number of larger vessels registered in the sample (Nephrops and demersal trawl vessels over 10m). These larger vessels tend to employ a higher number of younger deckhands from outside the UK. Conversely, on smaller vessels the age distribution of workers was roughly even across age bands (vessels using static gears under 10m) or skewed towards older age bands (low activity and demersal vessels under 10m). On demersal trawl vessels under 10m, 39% of workers in the sample were aged 30-39. Most deckhands were in the younger age bands, while owners working onboard their vessel and other workers were mainly in the older age bands. Most skippers and engineers in the sample were in the 40-49 age band.

The fish catching sector workforce is often not seen as attractive to young people due to the nature of the work and the pay levels. It is also extremely difficult to enter the industry as a new entrant due to the high costs involved (in purchasing a boat) and the lack of access to quota. There are also the practical realities of an older workforce in fishing, such as physical capabilities and safety. As a result, young people tend to look for jobs in other industries, and many move away from the local fishing communities. This is exacerbating the problem of depopulation and ageing of remote communities.

The policy may attract new entrants into the workforce, by enhancing the allocations to the non-sector group of vessels that make up the majority of the Scottish fishing fleet, strengthening the longer-term resilience of the sector and incentivising young people to join the fishing industry.

The policy may have a positive impact on opportunities for younger crews and enable some fishers of vessels that were built after 2020 to build a track record through both leasing quota..

Protected characteristic: Disability

There is little evidence on this protected characteristic in relation to employment in the fishing industry.

Protected characteristic: Gender

The fishing industry in Scotland is a male dominated industry: there are few female skippers or crew on fishing vessels. The Seafish survey of Employment in the UK fleet in 2021 found 99% of the sample of workers were male and of the 338 workers in Scotland only 1 was female (2021 Employment in the UK Fishing Fleet —Seafish). Of the female workers sampled, a large proportion were in the ‘other’ category, reflecting that many women fill onshore and support roles in the UK fishing fleet.

There continues to be a traditional gendered division of labour in many fishing communities. While women often undertake roles that are essential to the success of fishing including in fish capture, trading, processing, management, administration, this is often not well acknowledged or financially well rewarded.

A 2022 report on Women in Scottish Fisheries key findings suggest:

  • Women make significant contributions to the wellbeing and successes of local communities and the fishing industry through their paid and unpaid labour.
  • Women are mostly employed in onshore roles such as administration and seafood processing. They are also responsible for domestic work and childcare. Their work is often undervalued and underappreciated because it is informal and less visible, but essential, nonetheless.
  • Women are underrepresented in offshore and senior leadership positions in fisheries. Fisheries are culturally represented and imagined as male-dominated, which can discourage women from entry. There are also reports of sexist attitudes, behaviour and language.
  • Women face a range of practical, socio-economic and cultural challenges ranging from access to training, appropriate equipment and clothing, and associated safety issues, lack of vessel and quota ownership, unequal pay, caring responsibilities (where the lack of available childcare in rural areas limits their ability to participate in certain fishing activities), cultural assumptions about women's roles and identities within the fishing industry, and perceptions of what a successful industry looks like.

Protected characteristics: Pregnancy and maternity, gender orientation and gender reassignment

There is little evidence or literature on these protected characteristics in relation to employment in the fishing industry.

Protected Characteristic: Nationality

Some segments of fishing sector depend heavily on foreign crews and migrant workers. A 2021 Seafish survey of Employment in the UK Fishing Fleet found that overall, the majority (64%) of workers in the sample were from the UK. The most common other nationalities of workers in the sample were Philippines (11%), Ghana (7%), Latvia and Indonesia (5% each). This represents a lower percentage of UK workers than found in a 2018 sample, when 85% of workers sampled were from the UK. Scottish vessels, had a third of workers coming from outside the UK with most of these workers are employed on demersal trawlers over 10m. Non-UK nationals tend to be hired and remunerated on a contract basis which results in typically lower earnings compared to a crew share basis.

Religion/ Belief

There is little evidence on this protected characteristic in relation to employment in the fishing industry.

Marriage/ civil partnership

There is little evidence on this protected characteristic in relation to employment in the fishing industry.

Socio-economic aspect: Financial vulnerability

Earnings of crew are highly variable across the different fishing sectors, and vary by roles and remuneration arrangements (Table 1). Across all sectors crew deckhands are on average paid the least. In the case of crew share this is payment before tax, social security payments and other deductibles. In the case of contracts, reporting is of what the total cost to the vessels for acquiring the services of crews. For the most part it is foreign workers that are paid on contracts rather than through the crew share model and as a result these workers earn significantly less than those paid through crew share model. Research with the small scale coastal fisheries (under 10 metre) in the UK has shown a lack of financial resilience amongst fishers in this sector. All are share fishers, a form of self-employment where they receive a share of the gross income of the vessel. Whilst this system is held in high regard, this also means that fishers face insecurity of income, irregular pay with periods of no pay at all, they do not receive holiday or sick pay, and are often not eligible for welfare benefits (for periods of unemployment). They miss out on company pension schemes and must make their own pension arrangements. Debt problems are common across the fleet. Given their financial vulnerability, fishers in the inshore fleet may be at greater risk of poverty in the event of an economic shock. Therefore, increasing allocations for the stocks where there has been good uptake is anticipated to reduce some of this vulnerability within the 10 metre and under group of non-sector vessels.

In 2022, 4,117 fishers were working on Scottish vessels, representing 0.2 per cent of the total Scottish labour force. Although employment in the fishing fleet is a small percentage of total employment in Scotland, employment in fishing accounts for a higher percentage of employment in island communities (Shetland 5%, Na h-Eileanan Siar 2%, Orkney 2%) and in Argyll and Bute (1%). Every job directly involved in fishing supports between 2.5 and 5.6 in the value chain, sector dependent[2].

Table 1: Average crew share earnings and number of vessels for selected fleet segments and districts.

Fleet Segment

Average Crew Share

Scotland Total

10 metre & under creel



10 metre & under line



Over 10 metre Nephrops trawl



Over 10m Demersal trawl



Over 10m Demersal seine



Over 10m Pelagic



Source: Data from 2022 Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics and 2021 Seafish Fleet Interrogation Tool. Pelagic figures are from 2019 estimates published by STECF.

Socio-economic aspect: Living in Rural and/or Island Communities

Many of the challenges facing fishers in rural locations are the same whether mainland or island-based. These are explored in the Island Community Impact Assessment that accompanies the AQ consultation outcome report.



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