Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics 2020
30th September 2021
Extracts from the report published by Scottish Government on 29 September 2021.
Landings by Scottish vessels
In 2020, Scottish vessels landed 399 thousand tonnes of sea fish and shellfish with a gross value of £488 million. Compared to 2019 there was a decrease of 21 per cent in the real value of landings and a two per cent increase in the tonnage landed.
The decrease in real value was driven by shellfish and demersal species, as pelagic species increased in value. Shellfish species were worth £121 million, a fall of 42 per cent compared to 2019. Demersal species decreased 26 per cent in value to £149 million. Pelagic value increased six per cent to £218 million.
Landings by Scottish vessels accounted for 59 per cent of the value and 63 per cent of the tonnage of all landings by UK vessels in 2020 (Table 22a). Compared to 2019, the Scottish share of the total UK value has decreased by less than one percentage point and tonnage has increased by less than one percentage point.
Mackerel remained the most valuable species landed by the Scottish fleet, representing 37 per cent of the value of all Scottish vessels' landings. Nephrops is the second most valuable species, with 10 per cent of the total value. Haddock remained the most valuable demersal species with monkfish second and cod third. Together, haddock, monkfish and cod account for 18 per cent of the value of Scottish vessels' landings.
The tonnage of landings in 2020 was 40,000 tonnes (11 per cent) greater than in 2011. However, as shown in Chart 1, this was lower than the high seen in 2014. The general trend in real terms value of landings from 2016 to 2019 was fairly stable. However, due to the large decrease in the value of landings in 2020, the real terms value in 2020 decreased by £121 million (20 per cent) compared to 2011. This fall in 2020 was due to the impact of Covid-19 and this may not indicate a change in the long term trend.
2.2. The Scottish fishing fleet
There were 2,088 active Scottish fishing vessels in 2020, a decrease of 10 from 2019. In 2020, the number of over ten metre vessels was 532, down 7 vessels (one per cent) from 2019. There were 1,556 vessels in the ten metre and under fleet, a decrease of three vessels compared to 2019.
There were 4,737 fishers employed on Scottish registered vessels at the end of 2020. This figure is down three per cent (149 fishers) since 2019. Compared to 2019, there were 176 less regularly employed fishers (four per cent decrease), 50 more irregularly employed fishers (six per cent increase) and 23 less crofters.
Landings by Scottish registered vessels
398,608 tonnes (2% increase) worth £488 Million - (21% decrease)
Three most valuable species
% of total value landed
Other Demersal 24%
Other shellfish 15%
Other Pelagic 8%
2,088 active Scottish registered vessels down 10 vessels from 2019
532 vessels over 10 metres
1,556 vessels under 10 metres
4,737 Fishers employed 3% down 0n 2019
Crofters less than 1%
Irregulary employed 20%
Regularly employed 79%
3.1. Landings by Scottish vessels by species type
The 21 per cent decrease in the real terms value of landings by Scottish vessels to £488 million, between 2019 and 2020, was driven by a decrease in the value of shellfish and demersal species. The real terms value of shellfish landings decreased by 42 per cent and demersal landings decreased by 26 per cent compared to 2019, whereas pelagic landings increased by six per cent.
The two per cent increase in tonnage landed by Scottish vessels is attributed to an increase in landings of pelagic fish. Shellfish landings fell 23 per cent by tonnage and demersal landings fell 10 per cent. Pelagic landings increased by 13 per cent.
3.1.1. Pelagic species
Mackerel remained the most valuable species with £181 million, accounting for 37 per cent of the total value of Scottish landings. In 2020, the real value of mackerel landings increased by eight per cent and tonnage increased by 34 per cent in line with an increase in available quota. The real terms value and tonnage of herring both decreased by one per cent since 2019.
Over the ten years 2011-2020, the tonnage of pelagic landings has increased by 37 per cent with real terms value decreasing by two per cent.
3.1.2. Demersal species
Scotland has a mixed demersal fishery which includes more than a dozen species with landings that are worth £1 million or more annually (Table 5). Most demersal species decreased in real terms value compared to 2019 with a modest increase in the value of megrim. The real terms value of megrim increased 14 per cent. The top three demersal species by value are haddock, monkfish (anglerfish) and cod. Haddock remained the most valuable demersal species and represented seven per cent of the total value of Scottish vessels' landings and 22 per cent of the value of demersal landings in 2020. Monkfish accounted for six per cent of the value of Scottish vessels' landings and 20 per cent of demersal landings in 2020. Cod accounted for five per cent of the total value of Scottish vessels' landings and 16 per cent of the value of demersal landings in 2020.
Haddock landings fell in real terms value by 25 per cent but remained the most valuable demersal species at £33 million. The real terms value of monkfish was down 17 per cent to just over £30 million and cod fell 44 per cent to £24 million.
Compared to 2011, demersal landings fell nine per cent with real terms value decreasing by 20 per cent. This is not a long-term decrease and is likely just a reflection of the decrease in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19.
The value of demersal landings in 2020 saw a large decrease (26 per cent decrease in real terms) compared to 2019 (Table a), particularly from March to May (where the decrease ranged from 34 per cent to 44 per cent), which coincides with the first UK coronavirus lockdown (Table b). The lockdowns and restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic impacted many fishing vessels ability to land and sell fish during these months. Similar, but smaller decreases in value can be seen during the months October to December when further restrictions and a second lockdown were introduced.
As well as the restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was also a disruption to market demand and prices for some species due to the closure of the restaurant and hospitality sector in the UK and abroad during these months. Fishing businesses were provided with financial support from the government as a result of the hardship they experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
3.1.3. Shellfish species
Nephrops are the most valuable shellfish stock and the only shellfish species currently subject to quota. The Scottish fleet fish for Nephrops by creeling and by trawling. Creeled Nephrops are often caught and exported live. Creeled Nephrops represent a smaller tonnage of landings, but attract a price per tonne more than three times that of trawled Nephrops. The average price per tonne of creeled Nephrops was £10,059 per tonne while for trawled Nephrops the average price was £2,317 per tonne. In 2020, 1,271 tonnes of creeled Nephrops were landed by the Scottish fleet with a value of £13 million. Fifteen thousand tonnes of trawled Nephrops were landed worth £34 million. These data are presented in Table 27c.
Scallops contribute six per cent to the overall value landed by Scottish vessels and were worth £27 million in 2020. Edible crabs, velvet swim crabs and lobsters make up a small proportion of overall value landed by Scottish vessels (seven per cent combined) but are important for Scotland's large creel-fishing fleet, particularly those limited to inshore waters.
Tonnage of edible crabs decreased from 2019, by 26 per cent to eight thousand tonnes and the value in real terms decreased by 45 per cent to £15 million. Tonnage of lobsters decreased by 12 per cent from 2019, to 1,082 tonnes and the value in real terms decreased by a quarter (25 per cent) to £14 million.
Over the period 2011 to 2020, shellfish landings have fallen by 33 per cent while real terms value has fallen by 39 per cent. This decrease is mainly a result of the fall in landings and value in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19. Overall the shellfish sector in 2020 saw large decreases in tonnage (23 per cent) and value (42 per cent in real terms) compared to 2019 (Table a).
Coronavirus and the lockdowns associated with it had a large impact on the shellfish sector, particularly during lockdown months April 2020 and May 2020.
In April 2020, shellfish landings and value were down by 60 per cent and 75 per cent (in real terms) respectively compared to April 2019 (Table c, Chart 5).
While April and May were particularly poor months for the shellfish sector, both landings and value decreased in every month in 2020 compared to 2019, showing the impact that Covid-19 had on this sector.
Hospitality closures due to Covid-19 resulting in a loss of trade and markets particularly affected the shellfish sector. Both foreign and domestic foodservice markets collapsed as a result of hospitality closures and both import and export markets were further constrained by reduced transport and logistic timetables. Fishing businesses were provided with financial support from the government as a result of the hardship they experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
3.2. Landings abroad by Scottish vessels
In 2020, Scottish vessels landed 153 thousand tonnes of sea fish and shellfish worth £129 million abroad. The tonnage landed abroad increased by three per cent and the real terms value of landings abroad decreased by two per cent compared to 2019 (Table 4). Landings abroad accounted for 38.5 per cent of all landings by Scottish vessels by tonnage and 26.4 per cent by value. Of this, 94 per cent of the tonnage landed abroad was pelagic, four per cent was demersal and two per cent was shellfish.
The main species landed abroad was mackerel, representing 77 per cent of the total value of fish landed abroad in 2020. Since 2019, mackerel landings abroad have increased in tonnage by 30 per cent and increased in real terms value by six per cent. There were 93 thousand tonnes of mackerel worth £99 million landed abroad, which is 54 per cent of the total tonnage and 55 per cent of the value of mackerel landed by Scottish vessels. The price for mackerel landed into the UK was an average of £1,046 per tonne and mackerel landed abroad was an average of £1,071 per tonne in 2020.
Norway is by far the largest destination for Scottish vessels' landings abroad, accounting for 70 per cent by tonnage and 81 per cent by value of all Scottish vessels' landings abroad. Landings into Norway increased 42 per cent by tonnage compared to 2019 and the real terms value of these landings have increased by 24 per cent (Table 25). The increase in tonnage of mackerel landings into Norway is consistent with the increase in overall tonnage of landings of mackerel by Scottish vessels. Nearly all Scottish landings into Norway were of pelagic species.
In 2020, 87 per cent of the value of landings into Norway was for mackerel, amounting to 83 thousand tonnes with a value of £91 million.
Key countries for demersal landings were the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain. Scottish vessels landed 5,600 tonnes of demersal species abroad with a value of just over £6.4 million.
There was 3,112 tonnes of shellfish landed abroad by Scottish vessels in 2020, an increase of 13 per cent on 2019. These were mainly into Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Read the full report with many links, maps and charts HERE