In 2012, there were over 4,700 fishermen in Scotland and 2,046 vessels in the Scottish fishing fleet of which 1,448 are under 10 metre vessels. Fishing activity takes place all around the Scottish coast and islands.
There are 24 pelagic vessels in the Scottish fleet. The boats use sophisticated technology to target the fish they land to make them as efficient as possible. The target species of the Scottish pelagic fleet are mackerel and herring and are only fished at certain times of the year when the quality is at its best.
The shellfish fleet makes up the majority of the Scottish fishing fleet and is the most labour intensive fishery with most vessels under 10m. The boats use different methods to catch their target species. They use creels, trawls and dredges. There are many boats under 10m, mainly on the West coast, which fish just for 1 day at a time and land live shellfish. In the North East the larger boats usually fish for up to a week at a time and land chilled shellfish, mainly langoustine.
In 2001 and 2003 decommissioning schemes removed 165 vessels from the fleet, equating to 24,527 tonnes, and 66,515 kilowatts of engine power. The result was a reduction of pressure on fish stocks and a more streamlined white fish fleet. The majority of the remaining 300 boats fish with single or twin rig trawls from ports in the North East of Scotland. The main white fish species targeted are haddock, cod and saithe (coley). Monkfish and flatfish species are also landed.