Scottish sea fisheries statistics: technical manual

Information on the data presented in the Scottish sea fisheries statistics publications and the methodology used to create and quality assure the statistics.

Sources of data

Fishing activity and landings information

Fishers are legally required to supply fishing activity information to Fishing Administrations. This includes what they caught, where they caught it, the fishing equipment they used and where they landed their catch.

The format used depends on the length of the vessel:

  • over 12 metre vessels must maintain electronic logbook systems to record their activity
  • vessels between 10 and 12 metres may use paper logbooks to record their activity
  • 10 metres and under vessels do not need to keep logbooks under EU legislation, but in Scotland, these vessels are required to provide equivalent information on FISH1 forms or new mobile app

Value of landings

Buyers and sellers of fish must be registered and supply Fisheries Administrations with sales notes. These can be in paper or electronic format and show the presentation and price of the fish.

Legislation requiring the submission of sales notes only applies to fish sold in the UK. Sales notes are often still provided for landings outside UK; however, if a sales note for a given landing is not available, then the average price for that species is used to calculate the value for the statistics.

The value of landings presented in the data tables are nominal (not adjusted for inflation), unless stated otherwise in the tables notes. Throughout the publication text, percentage changes in values are in real terms, adjusted to the prices of the year of the statistics. The charts are also in real terms. These statistics use calendar year deflators published by HM Treasury: GDP deflators at market prices, and money GDP - GOV.UK (

Vessel information

Commercial fishers must have a licence to fish and UK Fisheries Administrations keep a record of every vessel that has a licence. Each licence includes the following information:

  • the length
  • the engine power
  • the gross tonnage
  • the age (not recorded compulsorily and sometimes unknown)
  • the port it is registered to
  • the main fishing method of the vessel

However, the main fishing method listed on the vessel licence is no longer used to produce the vessels by main fishing method tables in this publication as it is not updated. An alternative methodology determining the main fishing method by calculating the gear used to catch the majority of a vessel’s landings by value is used instead.  

Employment information

Scottish fishing fleet employment information is collected by the Scottish Government Marine Directorate through a fisher employment survey distributed to each of the 18 Scottish port districts. The fishery officers complete the survey using their expert local knowledge of the fishers in their district.

In 2022, (back updated for data from 2013 onwards) the methodology used to calculate the number of fishers changed. If a vessel is registered as an active fishing vessel but has not made any landings in the year in question, their employment figures are not counted.

Information on whether fishers are crofters is also no longer collected. Previous years information (prior to 2021) is now included with irregular fishers. All years from 2013 onwards have been back updated. This improved the accuracy of the fishers employment information. Registered fishing vessels can be used for purposes other than commercial fishing or may not actively fish for other reasons.

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