Provisional Sea Fisheries Statistics

Provisional statistics published today by Scotland's Chief Statistician show a three per cent decrease in the value of fish landed by Scottish vessels in 2010.


Thu, 17 Mar 2011


Scottish Government

Scottish Government:


The figures show that 366 thousand tonnes of fish were landed by Scottish vessels with a value of £428 million.

Landings by Scottish based vessels

The main reason for the decrease in the total value landed by Scottish based vessels is an 18 per cent decrease in the value of pelagic landings to £124 million in 2010. There was a 6 per cent increase in the value of shellfish to £152 million and a 2 per cent increase in the value of whitefish landings to £152 million. However, in overall terms these increases were outweighed by the decrease in the value of pelagic landings.

Nevertheless, the value of fish landed by Scottish vessels remained over £400 million, higher than in every year in the last decade other than 2009. The fall back in the value landed by Scottish vessels follows a large (12 per cent) increase between 2008 and 2009; the value landed in 2010 was still 8 per cent higher than the value landed in 2008.

The decrease in the value of pelagic landings stems from a 9 per cent decrease in the price obtained for mackerel, combined with a 11 per cent decrease in mackerel landings due to a decrease in quota resulting from the long term management plan for this species.

Prices obtained by Scottish vessels for mackerel landings by country of landing

Prices obtained for mackerel landed abroad fell 19 per cent in 2010, while prices obtained for mackerel landings into the UK fell slightly (3 per cent), resulting in a fall of 9 per cent in overall prices. The sharp decrease in prices obtained for foreign landings led to prices for mackerel landed abroad being lower in 2010 than prices for mackerel landed into the UK, in contrast to the picture in 2009. In reflection of this, there was a large decrease (24 per cent) in the volume of mackerel landed abroad and the proportion (by volume) of mackerel landed into the UK increased from 62 per cent in 2009 to 68 per cent in 2010.

The value of whitefish landed by Scottish vessels was very similar to the value landed in 2009 for most of the major species; the 2 per cent overall increase in value landed was due to a 7 million pound increase in the value of cod landed, reflecting partly an increase in the volume landed due to an increase in quota but also an increase in the price obtained.

The 6 per cent overall increase in the value of shellfish landed generally reflected a recovery in the prices obtained for these species. Prices increased for all of the major species except for lobster, scallops and queen scallops, where they remained roughly stable. The increases in price generally led to an increase in the value landed, except for nephrops where a 12 per cent recovery in prices was offset by a 12 per cent decrease in the volume landed.

In spite of the fall in the value of mackerel landings, mackerel remained the most valuable species to the Scottish fleet in 2010, at £109 million. Similarly, in spite of a small (1 per cent) decrease in value landed, nephrops remains the second most valuable single stock at £76 million in 2010.

Scottish fishing fleet

The number of active fishing vessels based in Scotland was 2,153 at the end of 2010, a decrease of 21 vessels (1 per cent) on the previous year.

Since the end of 2009, the number of over 10m vessels has decreased by 22 vessels. The demersal sector decreased in size by 14 vessels, the shellfish sector decreased by 7 vessels and the pelagic sector decreased by 1 vessel.

Currently, there are 1,484 vessels in the under 10m fleet, a increase of 1 vessel since the end of 2009. Two nephrops trawl vessels left the fleet, while 3 creel fishing vessels entered the fleet.


The number of fishermen employed on Scottish fishing vessels at the end of 2010 stood at 5,218, this represents a decrease of 4 per cent on the figures for the previous year.

Fish Quota Uptake

Uptake of quota was high for the major pelagic fish stocks; approaching 100 per cent for all the four stocks; North Sea Herring, West of Scotland Herring, North Sea Mackerel and West of Scotland Mackerel.

Quota uptake reached above 100 per cent for North Sea Plaice and North Sea Whiting and uptake was nearly 100 per cent for three other key North Sea demersal stocks, namely North Sea Cod, North Sea Haddock and North Sea Saithe. Quota uptake of West of Scotland key demersal stocks was generally well below 100 per cent.

Quota uptake was just over 80 per cent for North Sea Nephrops and near to 70 per cent for West of Scotland Nephrops.

The main source for Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics is Marine Scotland's FIN (Fisheries Information Network) administrative data base containing information on sea fishing activity and catch details, including sales details from Registered Buyers and Sellers (RBS), input by Marine Scotland Compliance, based on information supplied by fishing vessels, buyers and sellers. Where necessary, this is supplemented by information from the equivalent "Rest of UK" administrative system, FAD, using data held in the UK data warehouse, IFISH. FIN holds details of all fish landings into Scotland and landings abroad by Scottish based vessels. Voyage information is supplied by skippers who are required by EU legislation to maintain logbooks and provide landing declarations. Data on value of landings is provided by fish sellers under similar EU legislation. Information is collated and entered at port offices and then transmitted to the FIN central server.

Data on employment within the Scottish fishing fleet is collated by Marine Scotland in an annual survey distributed to port offices in each Scottish fishing district.

The publication of these provisional statistics has been brought forward considerably compared with previous years when the provisional statistics were published in May. This was achieved by starting the Quality Assurance process in mid-February, over two months earlier than in previous years but at a time when the data on quota uptake is effectively complete. However, although information on landings of quota species is almost complete, information on landings of other species may take longer to get into the system. These provisional statistics therefore understate the full value of landings of Scottish vessels that will be published in the Statistical Bulletin in September. We estimate that the figures may be understated by up to £4 million so that, although the final statistics will still show a decrease in the value of fish landed by Scottish vessels, this decrease may be of the order of 2.5 per cent, rather than the 3 per cent decrease shown by the provisional statistics.

The Sea Fisheries Data Team will regularly update certain management information such as levels of quota uptake and fish prices online.

National statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff.

Provisional 2010 Sea Fisheries Statistics

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