Marine / Half of fish in local waters landed by EU vessels, report claims

MORE than half of the fish and shellfish caught in Shetland waters is landed by EU fishing boats, while the local fleet gets less than one sixth, a new report by Dr Ian Napier of the NAFC Marine Centre UHI claims.

The stark figures highlight just how rich the islands’ waters are, with a third of all fish and shellfish landed from UK waters coming from what is termed ‘Shetland’s Exclusive Economic Zone’ (EEZ).

Drawing on official figures for an area of 127,000 kmaround Shetland, bounded by Faroese, Norwegian and the remainder of UK waters, Dr Napier calculated that local vessels land just 14 per cent of the fish and shellfish by weight and 21 per cent by value.

By contrast, EU boats land 56 per cent by weight and 38 per cent by value, with other UK vessels making up the remainder.

Simon Collins, executive officer of Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said: “We’ve long known that Shetland’s waters are teeming with fish and that under the Common Fisheries Policy EU vessels are permitted to plunder our traditional fishing grounds.


“What this report does is illustrate in detail just how bad the situation has become, and how severe the imbalance is.

“It serves as a reminder, if one were needed, to the UK’s Brexit negotiators that they must resist all attempts by the EU to maintain the status quo.

“The UK must have control of its own waters and have the power to determine who gets access to our stocks.

In all, 450,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish worth £370 million were landed from the ‘Shetland EEZ’ by UK and EU boats annually from 2016 to 2018.

On average, Shetland boats landed 120,000 tonnes worth £116 million – 63,000 tonnes and £77 million of which was caught in the ‘Shetland EEZ’.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Pelagic fish dominate catches – four fifths (79 per cent) by weight and more than half (58 per cent) by value, with demersal fish accounting for 18 per cent by weight and 38 per cent by value.

The ‘Shetland EEZ’ accounts for 17 per cent of the UK EEZ and just over a quarter (27 per cent) of the Scottish part of the UK EEZ.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.