Future of fisheries management in Scotland: national discussion paper

Seeks to start an in-depth nationwide discussion with stakeholders to help inform and develop Scotland’s Future Fisheries Management Strategy.


A guide to terms and acronyms used across the document


Full name

Description/ Definition


UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

UNCLOS is an international treaty that provides a regulatory framework for the use of the world’s seas and oceans. Amongst many provisions the Convention seeks to ensure the conservation and equitable usage of resources, and to ensure the protection and preservation of the living resources of the sea.


The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea

Global organization that develops science and advice to support the sustainable use of the oceans.


Maximum Sustainable Yield

The maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for a given fish stock means the highest possible annual catch that can be sustained over time, by keeping the stock at the level producing maximum growth. The MSY refers to a hypothetical equilibrium state between the exploited population and the fishing activity.

When discussing “MSY”, it is essential to distinguish between 3 closely related concepts: MSY, BMSY and FMSY.


Biomass Maximum Sustainable Yield

MSY is supported by a stable population size known as BMSY (= “biomass MSY”). Consequently, “reaching MSY” means rebuilding fish populations to the BMSY level, in order to be able to support the level of annual catches known as MSY


Fishing Mortality Maximum Sustainable Yield

The highest yield which can be continuously taken from the stock under average conditions without significantly affecting the ability of that stock to reproduce.

When the fish population is at BMSY and the fishing fleet is catching an annual amount of fish equal to MSY, then the resulting fishing mortality is FMSY.


Convention on Biological Diversity

CBD a multilateral treaty. The Convention has three main goals including: the conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

Its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is often seen as the key document regarding sustainable development.


Common Fisheries Policy

The CFP is a set of rules for managing European fishing fleets and for conserving fish stocks. Designed to manage a common resource, it gives all EU Member State fishing fleets equal access to EU waters and fishing grounds and allows fishermen to compete fairly. The CFP aims to ensure that fishing and aquaculture are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable and that they provide a source of healthy food for EU citizens. Its goal is to foster a dynamic fishing industry and ensure a fair standard of living for fishing communities.

Coastal State


Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a Coastal State has responsibilities which involve joint management of fisheries resources, have an obligation to set an allowable catch and to grant other States fisheries access if (and only if) they [do] not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch themselves.

A Coastal State by default controls its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) out to 200 nautical miles. Access to these waters can be traded on an annual basis. Traditionally, in return for quota where another Coastal State is authorised to catch an amount of its quota share in another Coastal State’s waters. This is helpful when the stock is seasonal or migratory in nature.

Choke species


A term used to describe a low volume quota species which, if reached, would lead to vessels having to tie up even if they still had quota for other species.



The European Economic Area (EEA) is the area in which the Agreement on the EEA provides for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the European Single Market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area.

The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU’s single market.


Exclusive Economic Zone

An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the zone in which a Coastal State assumes jurisdiction over the exploration and exploitation of marine resources in its adjacent section of the continental shelf, taken to be a band extending 200 miles from the shore.

Each Coastal State has the right to manage natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone, but under the CFP, the fishing area of all EU states is considered one zone.


European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

The EMFF is the fund for the EU’s maritime and fisheries policies for 2014-2020.
It is one of the five European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds which complement each other and seek to promote a growth and job based recovery in Europe.

The fund

  • helps fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing
  • supports coastal communities in diversifying their economies
  • finances projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts
  • supports sustainable aquaculture developments
  • makes it easier for applicants to access financing.

EU Birds Directive


The Birds Directive aims to protect all of the 500 wild bird species naturally occurring in the European Union. The Directive places great emphasis on the protection of habitats for endangered and migratory species. It establishes a network of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) including all the most suitable territories for these species.

EU Habitats Directive


Together with the Birds Directive, the Habitats Directive sets the standard for nature conservation across the EU and enables all 27 Member States to work together within the same strong legislative framework in order to protect the most vulnerable species and habitat types across their entire natural range within the EU.

The Habitats Directive protects around 1200 European species other than birds which are considered to be endangered, vulnerable, rare and/or endemic. Included in the Directive are mammals, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, insects, molluscs, bivalves and plants. This is to ensure that the species listed in the Habitats Directive reach a favourable conservation status within the EU.

Fisheries Administrations


The UK Government apportions UK fish quotas amongst the four UK Fisheries Administrations (i.e. Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland) pro-rata to the Fixed Quota Allocation (FQA) units associated with the licences administered by each Administration.

The Scottish Government (and the other Administrations) issues most of its allocations to Fish Producer Organisations (POs), of which there are 10 administered directly by Marine Scotland. POs are quota management and marketing organisations made up of member fishing vessels. POs manage their members’ quotas on their behalf and some seek to market their landings.

Fishing quotas


Fish quotas are the amounts of fish of different species that may be legally landed by EU Member States.

The purpose of quota management arrangements in Scotland is to enable the fishing industry to make full use of the fishing opportunities which we receive every year from the EU, while ensuring that quotas are not exceeded.


Fixed Quota Allocation

A fixed share of a quota stock, associated with a vessel fishing licence. The FQA units are used in the allocation of quota in a way similar to a share system. The mix of FQAs held by vessels in membership of each fishing group at 1 January each year is used to determine the share of the UK quota each group receives. A fishing group can be a Producer Organisation (PO) or a pool of vessels managed by a UK Fisheries Administration.

Local Authority


An administrative body in local government


Marine Protected Areas

Marine protected areas are one of the mechanisms used to ensure protection of some of the most vulnerable species and habitats. In Scotland, the MPA netwok covers aproximately 20% of Scottish seas.


Marine Strategy Framework Directive

The MSFD aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of the EU’s marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. It is the first EU legislative instrument related to the protection of marine biodiversity, as it contains the explicit regulatory objective that “biodiversity is maintained by 2020”, as the cornerstone for achieving GES.


Maximum Sustainable Yield

The maximum amount of fish that can indefinitely be taken out of a stock. This implies ‘on average’ and’ in the long term’ and for a relatively stable set of environmental conditions.


Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic

OSPAR is the mechanism by which 15 Governments & the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic.


Producer Organisation

PO’s are officially recognised bodies set up by fishery or aquaculture producers. They play a role in managing quotas and marketing the fisheries products of their members. There are currently 10 established PO’s in Scotland.

Processing sector


The fisheries sector is made up of marine fishing, aquaculture (fish farming) and processing, and involves complex supply chains. The processing sector is complex, conducting both primary and secondary processing of fish caught within the UK and imported from elsewhere

Regulating Orders


A Regulating Order gives you the power to regulate and restrict fishing for, dredging, or otherwise taking shellfish covered by the order within a specified area.


Remote Electronic Monitoring

REM cameras are used for monitoring fishing activities, collecting data and assuring best practice.


Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups

Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) aim to improve the management of inshore fisheries in the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Scottish waters, and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments.

Scottish (territorial) waters


Scottish waters come under the jurisdiction of Scots law, and are also used for defining the area of operation of Marine Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and other Scottish Government agencies and public bodies.

Several Orders


There is special legislation to encourage the setting up and management of private and natural shellfisheries. Under the legislation, orders known as Several Orders and Regulating Orders may grant exclusive fishing or management rights within a designated area. Several Orders allow legal ownership of certain named shellfish species in a private shellfishery. Regulating Orders allow management rights to designated natural shellfisheries.



Total allowable catches (TACs) or fishing opportunities, are catch limits (expressed in tonnes or numbers) that are set for most commercial fish stocks. The Commission prepares the proposals, based on scientific advice on the stock status from advisory bodies such as ICES and STECF.


Email: ffm@gov.scot

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