Aquaculture for all

Scottish Fish Landings Volume Stable, Value Falls

Sustainability Economics Politics +4 more

SCOTLAND, UK - Provisional statistics show that the overall quayside value of fish landed by Scottish vessels in 2012 decreased by seven per cent, compared with the record level in 2011. However, the value of fish landed remains higher than in the decade preceding 2011. The quantity of fish landed increased by one per cent.

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Scottish vessels landed 363,800 tonnes of fish with a value of £464 million.

Landings by Scottish based vessels

The total value of fish landed by Scottish vessels in 2012 was £464 million, seven per cent lower than in 2011. This decrease in total landed value is the result of reductions in the overall value of all species types. There was little change in the volume of fish landed between 2011 and 2012. The tonnage of pelagic fish landed increased by four per cent, whilst shellfish landings decreased by five per cent. The tonnage of demersal species landed was similar to 2011.

The overall value of pelagic landings decreased by ten per cent to £166 million, driven by a 20 per cent decrease in the total value of mackerel compared with 2011. This decrease in mackerel value resulted from an eight per cent decrease in the volume landed and a 13 per cent decrease in the price. There were also observable changes in the split between domestic and foreign landings. Since 2011, the price of mackerel landed in the UK decreased by 18 per cent (to £939 per tonne), whilst the price of mackerel landed abroad decreased by seven per cent (to £1,008 per tonne). This price differential may be one factor explaining why the proportion of mackerel landed abroad increased from 42 per cent to 54 per cent in 2012.

Despite the decrease in price of mackerel landed abroad, the total value of these landings increased by 10 per cent, to £73 million, due to an 18 per cent increase in the quantity landed. The total value of mackerel landed in the UK decreased by 40 per cent to £58 million. In contrast, herring landed in the UK experienced a marked increase in value of 71 per cent compared with 2011, reaching £29 million. Fifty-four thousand tonnes of herring was landed in 2012, an increase of 44 per cent, and the average price increased by 19 per cent.

The overall value of demersal landings decreased seven per cent to £143 million. Haddock, hake and whiting showed an increase in value between 2011 and 2012 (four per cent, 19 per cent and one per cent, respectively). Hake was the only key demersal species to have a marked price increase. Haddock’s increased value resulted from a 25 per cent increase in the volume landed despite a price drop of 17 per cent. Whiting also saw a marked increase in the quantity landed (15 per cent), though price decreases resulted in only a minimal change in the value landed. The volume of landings of all other key demersal species either fell or were similar to 2011 quantities. Compared to 2011, the price of cod in 2012 reduced by 11 per cent to £1,982 per tonne, and consequently its overall quayside value decreased by seven per cent. Megrims, monkfish and plaice all notably decreased in overall value in 2012, compared to 2011.

There was a five per cent decrease in the total value of shellfish to £155 million. 2012 saw a reduction in the value of all key shellfish species, excluding scallops, whose value was similar to that of 2011. A major reason for these reduced values were falls in the volumes landed. Due to decreased quantities landed, the values for edible crab, queen scallops and nephrops decreased in spite of increases in price during 2012 (by one per cent, three per cent and four per cent respectively). The other key shellfish species all experienced reductions in price. Those shellfish which are not regarded as key species were grouped together for the purposes of analysis. This aggregated group of shellfish increased in value during 2012 by 31 per cent from its 2011 value. This large increase was driven by a 23 per cent increase in the value of razor clams (£2 million). The value of razor clams accounts for 60 per cent of the value of the aggregated other shellfish group.

Despite the reduction in the total value of mackerel from 2011, it is still the most valuable stock to the Scottish fleet, contributing 28 per cent to the total value of all stocks. Nephrops remains the most valuable shellfish and second most valuable stock, contributing 18 per cent to the total. Haddock is the most valuable demersal fish to the Scottish fleet.

Scottish fishing fleet

In 2012, the number of active fishing vessels based in Scotland was 2,044. This represents a decrease of 51 vessels (two per cent) from the previous year, to the lowest number of the decade.

There were 599 over 10m vessels in the Scottish fleet. This is a reduction of 26 vessels from 2011, of which 14 were demersal vessels and 12 were shellfish vessels.

During 2012, the number of under 10m vessels fell to 1,445. This is a decrease of 25 vessels from 2011, the majority of which (22) were creelers.


At the end of 2012, the number of fishermen employed on Scottish fishing vessels had decreased five per cent from 2011, driven by a reduction in the regularly employed category. Of the 4,747 fishermen employed; 3,752 were regularly employed whilst 941 were employed irregularly and 54 were crofters.

Fish Quota Uptake

Quota uptake was high in 2012 for the major pelagic fish stocks, reaching or exceeding 99 per cent.

Uptake of quota for demersal species in the North Sea varied slightly. Cod, haddock and saithe uptake reached at least 95 per cent, whilst whiting and plaice uptake was just under 90 per cent. By contrast, uptake of North Sea monkfish was 63 per cent, down 22 percentage points from last year.

West of Scotland quota uptake for haddock (areas Vla, Vb), saithe and monkfish all exceeded 83 per cent and whiting uptake reached 102 per cent. Historically, West of Scotland quota for demersal species is often not all used.

Quota uptake for West of Scotland nephrops was just over 93 per cent but uptake for North Sea nephrops reached only 55 per cent. This poor uptake in the North Sea was due to an unusually low nephrops population in the Fladdens.

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