Lost fishing pots in Scotland's waters: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Information requested

“I am hoping the Marine Scotland can provide me with the number of lost fishing pots in Scotland's waters for the years 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023”?


Before answering the question, we would like to clarify that: “Marine Scotland” is now known as the “Marine Directorate.” This is in order to align with the naming convention of other Scottish Government Directorates.

In accordance with Article 48 of the EU regulation 1224/2009 (the "Control Regulation") it is the responsibility of the vessel master to attempt to retrieve lost fishing gear as soon as possible, and also to inform the competent authority if they are unable to retrieve the gear. As per the UK Government Guidance, the reporting of the lost fishing gear can be done by using an electronic logbook or by using the lost gear declaration (GLS) when submitting a daily fishing activity report (FAR). If the vessel does not have an electronic logbook, lost gear must be reported to the UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre (UKFMC).

Based on the above and in order to answer your question, we have looked into text comments recorded in electronic logbooks from the years 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023, submitted by the vessels operating in Scottish waters.

Using the relevant search terms, we identified the following information:

Time of the Comment Entry No. based on the logbook comment
03/12/2020 30 pots missing
26/06/2021 80 pots missing
17/08/2021 8 pots missing (49 missing initially, 41 retrieved)
22/08/2022 Recovering lost potting gear (no numbers given)

The numbers of lost fishing pots reported to us are very low. Producing relevant and verifiable numbers of lost fishing pots is also difficult for the fact that where gear has been logged as lost and the competent authority is not told of its recovery, we cannot tell whether it remains lost or whether it has been recovered and the competent authority has simply not been informed.

To gather further data on the reported lost fishing pots we also looked into intelligence reports submitted by UK Fishing Monitoring Centre (UKFMC) on the calls from fishing masters regarding lost gear (main reason for lost gear relating to gear conflict). We were not able to identify intelligence reports on lost pots for the period of 2020 - 2023; The intelligence reports we hold on gear conflict do not provide an accurate reflection of lost pots.

We continually review and improve our procedures and educate fishers as to their legal obligations.

Additional information provided out with the EIRs

Under regulation 9 of the EIRs (our duty to provide advice and assistance) we would like to provide some additional information that may be of interest.

Here current work that Marine Directorate is undertaking on marine litter/waste from the fishing sector:

  • We are working through the British Standards Institution to support the development of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) standard for circular design of fishing and aquaculture gear. This aims to reduce the environmental impact of plastic gear during its entire lifespan, reducing the incidence and impact of loss, supporting reuse and improving recycling opportunities.
  • We have undertaken considerable research to develop an inventory for fishing and aquaculture gear and to analyse waste management policy options, and a joint UK-wide report was published by DEFRA on 9 March 2022, the report can be accessed at Defra, UK - Science Search. This research will support the development of solutions, with our fishing industries, contributing to our circular economy and preventing further marine plastic pollution from these sources.
  • We continue to support the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and KIMO to promote behaviour change both here and abroad. KIMO’s Fishing for Litter scheme involves over 330 vessels from 32 participating harbours in Scotland. Since 2005 it has assisted with the landing of over 2200 tonnes of waste caught in nets at sea, including ghost gear, while encouraging improved waste management practices aboard.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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