In 2018, 4,860 fishers were working on Scottish based vessels, representing 0.2 per cent of the total Scottish labour force. The number of fishers working on Scottish vessels rose by one per cent (up 61) between 2017 and 2018 (Table 40 and Chart 13). In addition to regular and irregular (formerly described as part time) fishers, Scotland has a small number of Crofters who engage in commercial fishing. There were 8 crofters in 2018 up from 6 in 2017. There is some difficulty in classifying which fishers are crofters and crofters may choose to fish in some years but not in others.
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 3 per cent, Orkney and Na h-Eileanan Siar local authorities 2 per cent each) and in Argyll and Bute (1 per cent) (Table 42).
Since 2009, employment on Scottish based fishing vessels has fallen ten per cent. This is composed of an eight per cent decrease in regular employment and a thirteen per cent fall in irregular employment.
Fraserburgh is the district with the largest number of fishers (774) accounting for 16 per cent of the total in 2018. It is also the district with the largest number of fishers who work regularly, with 647 regularly employed fishers. Shetland had the most irregular fishers (171), accounting for 21 per cent of the total fishers in this category. Lochinver and Stornoway were the only districts with crofters.
Chart 13. Number of fishers working on Scottish vessels 2009 to 2018