This website is no longer being updated. Please go to GOV.SCOT

marine environment

These pages are no longer being updated. Any updates will be published in the Marine Environment section on

Fish and Shellfish

herringThe people of Scotland have fished its waters from the earliest of times. Fish and shellfish remains found at archaeological sites such as Scara Brae (Orkney), provide evidence that our coastal dwelling ancestors made use of aquatic resources as a source of food.

Communities reliant on the sea were built in areas where natural inlets and bays provided shelter. Operations shifted from simple subsistence harvesting towards a commercial activity raising income for the community, and Scottish commercial fisheries were born. In 1431, for example, a Scottish Parliamentary Act required that half the proceeds from salmon fisheries be remitted in English silver or gold.

With the passage of time, the fluctuations in the fortunes of fish and shellfish stocks, and the preferences of markets and consumers, various fish and shellfish species have risen in importance and then been replaced by others.

However, Scotland has long understood the importance of managing its fishery and shellfish resources and has recognised the need for effective fisheries management methods in six key areas to ensure long term sustainability:

In addition, most stocks exploited by Scottish fishermen are managed under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by the European Commission. An important part of the management procedure is the use of Total Allowable Catches (TACs). These are intended to allocate fish resources to different member states and to control the amount of fish removed each year.

Additional Information