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Volume of Scottish Fish Landings Stable but Value Fell by Eight Per Cent

16 April 2014

SCOTLAND, UK - Provisional statistics published today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician show that the overall quayside value of sea fish and shellfish landed by Scottish vessels in 2013 decreased by eight per cent, compared with 2012. However, the quantity of fish landed remained stable having increased by less than half a per cent.

The decrease in value of fish landings in 2013 is a result of reductions in the overall value of all species types. The very slight increase (0.5 per cent) in overall volume landed was a result of increased demersal landings counter-balanced by decreased shellfish landings:

  •  Pelagic – value decreased by eight per cent, volume slightly increased by one per cent
  •  Demersal – value decreased by three per cent, volume increased by seven per cent
  •  Shellfish – value decreased by 13 per cent, volume decreased by 10 per cent

Overall mackerel is the most valuable stock to the Scottish fleet - in 2013 it accounted for 29 per cent of the total value of Scottish landings. In comparison to 2012, landings for mackerel in 2013 by Scottish based vessels were similar in terms of volume, at 134,000 tonnes, but were four per cent lower in terms of value, at £126 million. In 2012, over half (54 per cent) of the volume of mackerel landed by Scottish vessels was landed abroad. In 2013, this figure decreased to 45 per cent, even though the price per tonne received for mackerel landed abroad is still greater than that landed in the UK. The average price of mackerel landed in the UK decreased five per cent to £892 per tonne, whilst the average price received for mackerel landed abroad decreased under one per cent to £1,003 per tonne. In 2013 the value of herring to the Scottish fleet was £23 million, 22 per cent lower than in 2012. The reduction in value occurred despite a six per cent increase in the volume landed to 58,000 tonnes because the average price fell 26 per cent to £393 per tonne.

The overall value of demersal landings decreased by three per cent to £139 million despite a seven per cent increase in volume to 102,000 tonnes. In terms of value; haddock, monkfish and cod are the most dominant of demersal stocks to the Scottish fleet. In 2013, Haddock accounted for 28 per cent of the value of demersal stocks at £39 million. The overall value of haddock increased 21 per cent from 2012. This increase is partly driven by a 13 per cent increase in the quantity landed to 35,000 tonnes, and a seven per cent increase in price to £1,118 per tonne.

In 2013, the total value of both cod and monkfish landings were £21 million, whilst the volumes landed were 11,000 tonnes and 7,000 tonnes, respectively. In terms of value, quantity and price, cod landings in 2013 were very similar to 2012. The value of Monkfish landings decreased 25 per cent from 2012, driven by a 16 per cent decrease in the volume landed and an 11 per cent decrease in the price to £2,941 per tonne. The value and quantity of landings in 2013 for other key demersal species - hake, ling, megrim and saithe - all fell compared to 2012. However, the value of plaice and whiting landings increased 50 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively. The large increase in the value of plaice, totalling £5 million, was driven by a 67 per cent increase in the volume landed, to 5,000 tonnes, due to an increase in North Sea quota for plaice.

There was a 13 per cent decrease in the total value of shellfish to £137 million, driven by an 10 per cent decrease in the volume landed to 62,100 tonnes. In terms of value, Nephrops (Norway Lobster/Langoustine) are the most important shellfish stock, and the second most valuable stock, to the Scottish fleet. In 2013, Nephrops landings accounted for 47 per cent of shellfish landings in terms of value. In comparison to 2012, the total value of Nephrops has fallen 22 per cent to £65 million, due to a 13 per cent decrease in the volume landed, 18,000 tonnes, and a ten per cent fall in price to £3,495 per tonne. A contributing factor to this reduction in Nephrops landings is the continuation of a relative lack of Nephrops in the North Sea from 2012. The value of landings of other key shellfish species has fallen considerably apart from edible crabs and scallops which increased by four and two per cent, respectively. The main driver for the decreases in shellfish value are reductions in the volumes landed.

Scottish fishing fleet

In 2013, the number of active fishing vessels based in Scotland was 2,026, 20 fewer vessels - one per cent less than the previous year.

There were 595 over 10m vessels in the Scottish fleet, a reduction of three vessels from 2012. The majority (62 per cent) of over 10m vessels are shellfish vessels. This is the only over 10 metre vessel group to increase in number, with nine new vessels.

During 2013, the number of 10 metre and under vessels fell to 1,431 - a decrease of 17 vessels from 2012. Nine vessels left the 10 metre and under Nephrops trawlers fleet and nine vessels left the creel fishing fleet, representing a loss of 11 per cent and one per cent from each fleet respectively.


At the end of 2013, the number of fishermen employed on Scottish fishing vessels increased five per cent from 2012. This is the first increase since 2008. Of the 4,992 fishermen employed; 4,092 were employed regularly; 847 were employed irregularly; and 53 were crofters. The number of regularly employed fishermen increased by nine per cent from 2012 whilst the number of irregularly employed fishermen has fallen 10 per cent.

Fish Quota Uptake

Quota uptake was high in 2013 for the major pelagic fish stocks important to Scottish fisheries. Uptake exceeded 96 per cent.

Uptake of quota for demersal species in the North Sea varied. Cod, haddock and saithe uptake all exceeded 98 per cent whilst whiting reached 93 per cent. However, uptake of monkfish and plaice were lower, at 63 and 84 per cent respectively. In comparison to 2012, uptake was similar for North Sea monkfish but uptake of plaice was six percentage points lower due to an increase in quota, not a decrease in landings.

West of Scotland quota uptake for haddock (areas Vla, Vb) exceeded 99 per cent. Uptake of Saithe and monkfish were lower at 81 per cent and 85 per cent respectively.

Quota uptake in 2013 for West of Scotland Nephrops was 72 per cent, 21 percentage points lower than in 2012. This was partly due to fewer landings but also due to an increase in quota. Quota uptake for North Sea Nephrops was just under 52 per cent, three percentage points lower than 2012.

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