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Current Status

The proportion of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where the quota (Total Allowable Catch (TAC)) was set in line with scientific guidance has risen since the 2006 baseline figure of 60%. It currently stands at 75% (2010), 5 percentage points above the 2015 target figure of 70%.

More on fish stocks

National Indicator


Ensure 70% key commercial fish stocks at full reproductive capacity and harvested sustainably by 2015

Increase to 70% key commercial fish stocks at full reproductive capacity and harvested sustainably by 2015

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Why is this National Indicator important?

Healthy fish stocks are vital for the wellbeing of Scotland's seas and Scotland's fishing sector. Some of our key stocks have been at historically low levels in recent years. So if we are to ensure that these stocks are healthy and sustainable for future generations, we need to continue tackling this problem. We do this by ensuring that when we decide on quotas we stay within the boundaries of scientific advice on the size of the stock ("full reproductive capacity") and the rate at which it should be fished ("harvested sustainably"). The sustainability of fish stocks reflects the sustainability of the wider marine environment. By fishing our key commercial stocks more sustainably, we will, in time, maximise sustainable returns from fishing.

What will influence this National Indicator?

Our ability to meet this indicator will depend on decisions taken in the meantime to fish our key stocks at sustainable levels and on the extent to which these decisions are complied with. On the former the Scottish Government will work primarily with European and other international partners; the latter will depend crucially on a continuing dialogue with the fishing sector on the important role of high levels of compliance in ensuring the sustainability of stocks.

Another factor will be the continued availability of high quality scientific advice, in particular from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). This body's scientists provide Member States, the European Commission and other important decision-making forums with independent advice on how best to manage their fish stocks and on the quota levels they should set. Other sources of scientific advice include the European Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries.

Environmental factors such as climate change may also be influential particularly if they have an impact on the numbers of fish recruited into the different fisheries.

What is the Government's role?

The indicator commits the Scottish Government to strive for European agreement on aligning fishing levels on key Scottish commercial stocks with the best scientific information available. The Scottish Government is represented in the European negotiations which develop long-term management plans and which decide the catch limits for the majority of these stocks. The Scottish Government also uses independent scientific advice, most often from ICES, to determine its priorities when negotiating catch limits for a number of fish stocks with other European countries. In addition, the Government monitors advice and data from sources including the renowned Fisheries Research Services (FRS), a government agency based in Aberdeen, to ensure that sound conservation measures are implemented across the Scottish fleet. The Government also seeks to achieve high levels of compliance with the quotas set, partly through the work of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency and partly through intensive dialogues with the sector.

How are we performing?

In 2010, the proportion of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where the quota (Total Allowable Catch (TAC)) was set in line with scientific guidance was 75%. In 2009, the TAC of 74% of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks was set in line with scientific guidance. The 1.4% increase in the proportion of fish stocks where quota was set in line with scientific guidance observed for 2010 compared with 2009 was a small change (within three percentage points) indicating performance maintaining. (The 1.4% increase is based on the unrounded figures).

Percent of key stocks where the total allowable catch limit is consistent with the scientific advice

Source: Marine Scotland

Note (1): Stocks for which there was no available advice for the year, or where the advice was unclear, have been counted as if the TAC was not consistent with the advice.

Note (2): For each year, the calculation of the proportion of fish stocks used data weighted by value for that year. Landings data for 2010 was estimated by final 2009 landings data.

Note (3): Each point on the graph refers to the proportion of fish stocks where the TAC was set within scientific advice calculated over the three year period centred on that year.

View data on fish stocks


Any difference within +/- 3 percentage points of the last year's figures suggests a maintaining performance, whilst a increase or decrease of more than 3 percentage points suggests an improving or worsening performance respectively.

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Further Information

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Statistics Topic Page

Who are our partners?

International Council for the Exploration of the Seas

European Commission

Fisheries Research Services


Related Strategic Objectives

Wealthier and Fairer


View National Indicator data

Downloadable document:

NI44 data Sep 11NI44 data Sep 11 [XLS, 33.5 kb: 15 Sep 2011]
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Performance Improving


Performance Maintaining


Performance Worsening

no info

Performance data currently being collected