In 2019, 4,886 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 26) between 2018 and 2019 (Table 41 and Chart 12). 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 39 crofters in 2019 up from eight in 2018. 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 four per cent, Na h-Eileanan Siar three per cent, Orkney two per cent) and in Argyll and Bute (one per cent) (Table 43).
Since 2010, employment on Scottish based fishing vessels has fallen six per cent. This is composed of a seven per cent decrease in regular employment and a 25 per cent fall in the number of crofters.
Fraserburgh is the district with the largest number of fishers (797) accounting for 16 per cent of the total in 2019. It is also the district with the largest number of fishers who work regularly, with 788 regularly employed fishers. Shetland had the most irregular fishers (254), accounting for 28 per cent of the total fishers in this category. Stornoway was the district with the largest number of crofters employed (26), accounting for 67 per cent of the total fishers in this category.
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