Fisheries management in Scotland is guided by the management principles which underpin the Common Fisheries Policy.

Fishing vessels in Scotland are highly restricted and well-regulated in their activities through licences, quota allocation, days at sea allocations, technical measures and area restrictions. All catches must be declared prior to landing, recorded in a log book and can only be made at designated ports.

Over the last decade, the fishing industry in Scotland has suffered severe decline and some sectors still face major difficulties in the short and medium term. However, in general the industry is regarded as being on a sound footing and is currently profitable and successful. Fisheries are managed according to international standards and policies of best practice, and the Scottish Government and industry are safeguarding the future through good management based on sustainable principles. This includes managing stocks in such a way as to maximise biological, economic, social and environmental prosperity in the long term.

However, almost all of the fish stocks of interest to Scotland are shared by other countries, and management is in partnership with these countries.


In 2006 the Sea Fisheries Advisory & Reference Group (SeaFAR), a multi-stakeholder group including fishermen, processors, retailers and environmental NGOs, was tasked with developing an action plan to realise the aims of the Sustainable Framework for Scottish Sea Fisheries published by the Scottish Executive in 2005. The action plan seeks to build a sustainable, profitable and well managed industry through detailed actions. To download and view the complete SeaFAR progress report and action plan please click here.

The new Scottish Government has made clear that it wishes to continue the progress made under SeaFAR, and is establishing a Sea Fisheries Council to take forward actions to further promote a sustainable and profitable fishing industry.

Further information on fisheries management can be found in the following sections:

  • Common Fisheries Policy
  • Vessel licensing
  • International agreements, Total Allowable Catch (TAC) & quota
  • The role of Producer Organisations
  • Inshore fisheries
  • Verification of fish landings in Scotland
  • Enforcement of fishing effort and catch

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