Fisheries Management

Many of the fisheries of importance to Scotland are managed in an international context, mostly through the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

A key element of the fisheries management decisions is based on marine science. Every year, scientists undertake a programme of work to assess the state of fish stocks in European waters. Marine Scotland Scientists at the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen collect data on stocks in the North Sea and the West of Scotland. This information is combined with data from other European nations that fish in these waters, and is then considered by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).


ICES estimate the current state of the stock, and forecast what is likely to happen in the future. This process, known as stock assessment, aims to provide fishery managers in the Scottish Government and European Commission with the necessary information on which to base decisions on how much fishing should take place.

However, as well as using the scientific assessments, fishery management also needs to adopt a common-sense approach and take into account other factors. In most instances it is best to adopt a long-term management approach to stocks so as to ensure improvement over time, rather than adopt simplistic immediate significant reactions, which could have serious socio-economic impacts on fragile fishing communities. Fisheries management is a complex process that needs to recognise the mixed nature of our fisheries and take into account the implications of cutting the catch drastically on one species may have on the overall fishery. Many of our fisheries are now in long-term management plans and Scottish fishermen firmly believe in a holistic ecosystem approach to their management.

Click on the menu bar to find the current status of our main fish types as advised by ICES.