Moray Firth Offshore Fisheries

Fish can be divided into three broad categories:

1) demersal - whitefish which live at or near the bottom of the sea such as cod, haddock, whiting, plaice;
2) pelagic – oil rich fish which swim midwater such as mackerel and herring;
3) shellfish – these can be sub-divided into crustacea, such as prawns and crabs; and molluscs, which includes mussels and scallops.

Scotland has long understood the importance of fishery resources and has recognised the need for effective fisheries management methods to ensure long term sustainability. Marine Scotland has responsibility for promoting sustainable, profitable and well managed fisheries and aquaculture industries in Scotland and implements a range of management measures within Scottish, UK and EU frameworks.  Marine Scotland also produces publications such as the Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics (2009) which contains data on landings of fish by Scottish based vessels, the structure of the Scottish fishing fleet, numbers of fishermen employed in Scotland, UK quota uptake and effort uptake by the Scottish fleet.

Fishing Districts in the Moray Firth are Scrabster (covering ports of Avoch, Brora, Dunbeath, Helmsdale, Invergordon, Inverness, John O'Groats, Keiss, Lybster, Portmahomack, Portskerra and Wick), Buckie (covering ports of Buckie, Burghead, Findochty, Hopeman, Lossiemouth, Portknockie) and Fraserburgh (covering the ports of Fraserburgh, Gardenstown, Macduff, Pennan, Portsoy, Rosehearty, Sandhaven & Pitullie and Whitehills).

There were 2,174 active fishing vessels based in Scotland at the end of 2009, a net decrease of 1% since 2008. There were 434 active vessels in the Moray Firth fishing districts - 129 in Scrabster, 85 in Buckie and 220 in Fraserburgh.

The number employed in the Scottish catching sector was 5,409 in 2009, a decrease of 39 (1 per cent) compared with 2008 and the lowest level ever recorded. As well as the small decrease in overall employment, there has been a shift from regular to irregular work in this sector, an increase of 17 per cent on 2008. At a district level Fraserburgh continues to have the most fishermen in regular and total employment.  There were 1266 fishermen employed in the Moray Firth - 170 in Scrabster District, 273 in Buckie District (226 regularly 47 irregularly) and 826 in Fraserburgh District (712 regularly 114 irregularly.)

The value (£) landed by District in the Moray Firth in 2009 totalled £89,759,000 - Fraserburgh landed £49,328,000, Scrabster landed £36,824,000 and Buckie landed £3,607,000.

Marine Scotland is the directorate of Scottish Government responsible for marine and fisheries issues in Scotland. Staff are also responsible for collecting biological data on fish stocks, for conducting assessments of these stocks, providing advice on the stock size and exploitation level, and evaluating conservation measures.  Click here to find out more.