Scottish Sea Fisheries Employment 2015

Second Scottish Sea Fisheries report providing information on the structure of employment and key characteristics of Scotland's sea fishing fleet.


Marine Scotland repeated the 'Scottish Sea Fisheries Employment' survey undertaken in 2013 between September and November 2015. The aim of the 2015 survey was to update the 2013 Scottish Sea Fisheries Employment Report to provide current information on the structure of employment and key characteristics of crews, such as age, nationality and skills. The 2015 survey also focused in detail on vessel remuneration structures.

Like the 2013 survey, 2015 data collection used face-to-face interviews, predominantly with skippers and in some cases with whole crews on the quay side of all major ports in Scotland and the majority of small harbours. The data collected on vessel remuneration structures were based on interviewees recollection of monthly income and costs rather than data from records. The survey collected data from 222 vessels, representing 15% of the Scottish fleet in 2015. The survey vessels were drawn from Scotland's five main fishing sectors which accounts for 87% of all registered vessels. At the time of survey, the 222 vessels had 753 crew members representing 16% of the total Scottish fishing workforce [1] . This report presents results from descriptive analysis of survey data by five main fishing sectors which are:

  • pot and trap vessels: vessels predominantly catching Nephrops, crab and lobster. In 2015 there were 1,041 pot and trap vessels in the Scottish fleet. In 2014 (latest published data), they landed 16,332 tonnes of fish worth £43.8 million. The survey covered 109 or 10% of the active vessels in this sector.
  • demersal under 24 metre vessels: smaller vessels catching predominantly demersal or whitefish (cod, haddock, anglerfish, hake) and Nephrops. In 2015 there were 37 vessels in this sector. In 2014 this sector landed 19,470 tonnes of fish worth £31.3 million. The survey sampled 13 vessels which account for 35% of active vessels in this sector.
  • demersal over 24 metre, seine and pair trawl vessels: larger vessels catching predominantly whitefish which consists of cod, haddock, anglerfish, hake and saithe. In 2014 the large demersal fleet landed 86,873 tonnes of fish, worth £81.4 million. The survey covered 21 of the 59 vessels in this sector in 2015, representing 36% of the active fleet.
  • Nephrops trawl: vessels catching predominantly Nephrops. In 2015 there were 221 vessels active in this sector which vary in length from 10 metres to over 24 metres. In 2014, Scottish Nephrops trawlers landed 19,764 tonnes of fish worth £63.2 million. The survey sampled 56 vessels, representing 25% of active vessels in this sector.
  • scallop dredge: vessels exclusively targeting scallops and ranging in length from 10 metres to 40 metres. In 2014 scallop dredgers landed 22,727 tonnes of seafood, worth £34.2 million. The 2015 survey sampled 23 of the 98 vessels in this sector, which represents 23% of the scallop fleet.

Table 1 summarises the distribution of vessels across the five Scottish fishing sectors together with their share of total vessels active in 2015. A number of discrete sectors were not targeted in this survey because they either consisted of a small number of vessels, were hard to reach (i.e. language barriers) or have historically been unwilling to take part in voluntarily surveys. Therefore they were removed to make best use of available resources for the five main sectors. For detailed information on the survey methodology, data collection and analysis please see Annex 1.

Table 1: Overview of the number of active vessels in 2015 in the five key sector, the sample and the percentage of the population surveyed

Sector Population* Sample size % of population surveyed
Pots and Traps 1,041 109 10%
Demersal under 24m 37 13 35%
Demersal over 24m, seine and pair trawl 59 21 36%
Nephrops trawl 221 56 25%
Scallop dredge 98 23 23%
Grand Total 1,456 222 15%

*Gillnetter, long-liners, <10m demersal trawl/seine, pelagic, beam trawl, >10 hook & line vessels and other miscellaneous vessels were not targeted by the survey and totalled 226 vessels in the Scottish fleet in 2015.

Throughout this report the number of crew or vessels included in each analysis (sample size), is stated at the bottom of each graph and in the text, e.g. (n = 156).

This report will make comparisons with the 2013 and 2015 survey results and highlight notable difference or changes between the samples. Where changes are highlighted, they should not necessarily be interpreted as trends over time due to differences in the samples for the 2013 and 2015 surveys.


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