Latest figures show that in 2018, Scottish-registered fishing vessels landed 445 thousand tonnes of sea fish and shellfish with a value of £572 million. This represents an decrease of 20 thousand tonnes (4%) and an increase of £12 million (no significant change in real terms) from 2017.
There were 2,087 active Scottish registered fishing vessels in 2018, an increase of 1% from 2017. The number of fishers working on these vessels was 4,857, which is 58 (1%) higher than in 2017 (4,799).
Scottish fishing fleet
The number of active Scottish registered fishing vessels in 2018 was 2,087, an increase of 19 vessels (1%) from 2017. The change in vessel numbers was
largely due to 20 additional creelers of under 10m.
At the end of 2018, the number of vessels in:
• The under 10m fleet increased by 32 to 1,538 vessels
• The 10 metre and over fleet decreased by 13 to 549 vessels
In keeping with other European nations, the Scottish fishing fleet has generally been reducing in number over the past ten years, down 89 vessels (4%) in 2018 compared to 2009. There have been changes in composition of the fleet, with 144 fewer 10m and over vessels and an increase of 55 under-10m vessels, which are primarily engaged in creeling.
In 2018, the overall number of fishers working on Scottish fishing vessels was reported at 4,857, which is 1% up on the figure reported in 2017. However, the number of regularly employed fishers increased by 100 (3%), irregularly employed fishers decreased by 41 (5%) and the number of crofters reported decreased from 6 to 5. This shift from irregular to regular employment continues the differences seen in 2017.
Ten Year Trends
Compared to 2009, in 2018 the tonnage of fish landed was up 18% and real terms value was up 11%.
NOTE the 10 year trends (during the SNP Scottish Govt terms – and the much maligned (by tories) EU Common Fisheries Policy) – since 2009 there has been an increase in tonnage of 18% and in value of 11%.
NOTE the increase In smaller vessels eg creelers. (These smaller vessels often represent directly involved family businesses rather than the large international corporations and rentier groups).
NOTE the increase in regularly employed fishers and decrease in the irregularly employed fishers. Again, indicative of parts of the fisheries being gradually restored to directly involved family businesses rather than the international rentier corporations.
Slow, difficult changes to engineer and push forward – but, under the SNP Scottish Govt (and the EU Common Fisheries for all its various faults), some real progress is being achieved.
Of course, Scotland contains the bulk of the UK fishery and, it is in the interests of the people of Scotland to manage this in a sustainable manner. However, the bulk of the fishing fleet is owned by a very small group of families, represented by the BBC Scotland favourite, the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation led by Mr Bertie Anderson and his Protestant Boys. There are other Scottish fishing groups, but the BBC rarely mentions them, and even less frequently, does it interview them or publish their views. The SFF, is based mainly in the Tory voting constituencies of the North East which is also where the majority in favour of REMAIN was smallest. The argument they put forward was about taking back control of OUR fishery. The OUR of course meant only the narrow clique which owns most f the vessels and on land facilities. This clique has taken the bulk of EU subsidies. Now, the Common Fishery policy is not perfect and the media with the selective use of ‘EU red tape and straight banana’ mendacities created a myth of piratical foreigners taking our fish, ignoring the fact the UK fishers could fish anywhere in EU waters. Most of the conservation legislation has originated in the EU and is routinely opposed by the SFF, with the BBC uncritically transmitting these objections. It is EU funding which has enabled a decommissioning of boats in ways which do not cause hardship ( I.e. hardship to Bertie and his boys.
W need to break up this cartel and enable more individuals to participate. Much of the rest of Scottish fishers, outside of the Protestant Boys are small boats owned and mainly crewed by the owners and family.
Like oil, gas and renewables it is the extent of Scottish territorial waters and the fish and shellfish therein, which is coveted by Westminster. Labour has little base or interest in fishing communities despite these being mainly working class employee communities. These communities are often sincerely religious and this is often sneered at by urban Labour. (I am an atheist myself, but, two generations ago, members of my family were deep sea fishers in their own boat. They were Wee Frees.)
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How many foreign nationals, Filipino, Indonesians, Africans are employed by the wealthy owners of the bigger fishing boats?