A review of Scotland's capture fisheries: stock status, knowledge gaps, research requirements and stakeholder engagement

Alyson Little, Nick Bailey, Robin Cook, Clive Fox, Hazel Curtis, Michael Heath, Tara Marshall, Beth Mouat, Paul Fernandes

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Fishing is a significant industry for Scotland’s rural communities. Scotland’s industry is the largest in the UK and the 4th largest in the European Union.   Over the past five years, Scotland’s fish and shellfish landings have averaged around 370,000 t with a value of over £450 million p.a.   The industry provides employment to almost 5000 fishermen, working on over 2000 vessels, most of
whom are located in rural areas away from the major conurbations. There are approximately 138 recognised stocks of fish and shellfish which account for 99% of total landings by Scottish vessels.   Most of the stocks occurring within 12 nautical miles of the shore (inshore fisheries) are shellfish and are managed nationally. Most of the fish stocks that occur beyond national jurisdictions are managed internationally under the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and bilateral arrangements with other coastal states such as Norway.
This document reports on the outcome of a review in response to a research call from Fisheries Innovation Scotland to: provide a summary of the status of Scotland’s fish and shellfish stocks; summarise previously funded research into a searchable database; review the process of stakeholder engagement; and identify relevant research requirements. In 2013, of the 63 internationally managed stocks, 11 were sustainable, 4 were overfished, 5 declining and 3 were recovering based on internationally agreed reference points  40 stocks were
undefined either due to lack of data or reference points; these undefined stocks represented approximately 22% of the value of landings.  Of the 75 nationally managed stocks, 49 have had their exploitation rates assessed: two thirds of these were fished in excess of rates consistent with maximum sustainable yield.  There are no estimates of the abundance of any of the crab and lobster
stocks. A database of relevant research projects carried out since 2005 was constructed.  This has details of over 130 projects, funded by the European Commission, the Scottish government and other national funders.   Details in the database include a project summary, contact details of project leaders, project websites, and locations of final reports.  The database was built in excel and is searchable using instructions contained therein: it will be made publicly available on the FiS website.  A synthesis of management concerns associated with the various stocks considered is provided with a summary of key knowledge gaps.  Additional consideration is given to the challenges which are
common to many stocks.  These are further summarised by listing over 40 research requirements to fill these gaps, ranked according to importance, impact and likely success.  These requirements for further research were grouped into key topics which include: the landings obligation, inshore fisheries, climate change, stock status and Maximum Sustainable Yield. Finally the role of stakeholders in the science and management of fisheries is examined.  Stakeholder engagement is reviewed from examples throughout the world, including the EU, USA, Canada and Norway.   A more detailed analysis was conducted of Scottish systems of stakeholder engagement.  Generally, local bottom‐up approaches were more effective than initiatives driven by larger institutions, so results based management and participatory approaches are more likely to succeed.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherFisheries Innovation Scotland
Number of pages118
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Inshore fisheries management
  • fisheries economics


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