In 2020, 4,737 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 fell by three per cent (down 149 fishers) between 2019 and 2020 (Table 41 and Chart 7). 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 16 crofters in 2020, down from 39 in 2019. 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 five per cent, Orkney three per cent, Na h-Eileanan Siar two per cent) and in Argyll and Bute (one per cent) (Table 43).
Since 2011, employment on Scottish-based fishing vessels has fallen five per cent. This is composed of a seven per cent decrease in regular employment and a 69 per cent fall in the number of crofters. Irregular employment has increased by nine per cent since 2011.
Fraserburgh is the district with the largest number of fishers (805) accounting for 17 per cent of the total in 2020. It is also the district with the largest number of fishers who work regularly, with 690 regularly employed fishers. Shetland had the most irregular fishers (252), accounting for 26 per cent of the total fishers in this category. Portree was the district with the largest number of crofters employed (seven), accounting for 44 per cent of the total fishers in this category.