Big drop in value of fish landings in Fraserburgh

Marine Scotland have just published their annual report on Scottish Fisheries Statistics 2020 which gives detailed statistics on the landings of fish in every port in the country, including Fraserburgh.

By Tony Mackay, Economist
Friday, 8th October 2021, 6:25 am
Fishing landings at Fraserburgh Harbour fell dramatically in the last year.
Fishing landings at Fraserburgh Harbour fell dramatically in the last year.

The numbers are disaggregated by species, tonnage and value.

The value of fish landings at Fraserburgh fell by a massive 45 per cent to £24.9 million last year, and the tonnage fell by 32 per cent to 14.4 million.

In Scotland as a whole, the value of landings in 2020 was down 27 per cent and the tonnage down four per cent. Both the Fraserburgh tonnage and value falls were therefore much worse than the national averages. The value fall was the second worse in the country, after Mallaig (-49 per cent).

The Fraserburgh value was 6.2 per cent of the Scottish total and the tonnage 5.0 per cent.

The annual report states: “The 21 per cent decrease in the real terms value of landings by Scottish vessels to £488 million, between 2019 and 2020, was driven by a decrease in the value of shellfish and demersal species. The real terms value of shellfish landings decreased by 42 per cent and demersal landings decreased by 26 per cent compared to 2019, whereas pelagic landings increased by six per cent.

“The two per cent increase in tonnage landed by Scottish vessels is attributed to an increase in landings of pelagic fish. Shellfish landings fell 23 per cent by tonnage and demersal landings fell 10 per cent. Pelagic landings increased by 13 per cent.”

The report also states: “The lockdowns and restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic impacted many fishing vessels’ ability to land and sell fish during these months. Similar, but smaller, decreases in value can be seen during the months October to December when further restrictions and a second lockdown were introduced.”

The lockdowns and restrictions are obviously the main reasons for the falls at Fraserburgh.

In terms of tonnage, demersal (white fish) accounted for 53 per cent of the Fraserburgh total (which was 11 per cent higher than in 2019), shellfish 40 per cent (down 33 per cent) and pelagic 17 per cent (down 83 per cent). These are very surprising annual changes, particularly the huge fall in pelagic landings.

The biggest landings by weight were of nephrops (28 per cent of the total) and haddock (17 per cent).

In terms of value, shellfish accounted for 56 per cent of the total (down 49 per cent on 2019), white fish 41 per cent (down 11 per cent) and pelagic three per cent (down 89 per cent). The most valuable species landed were nephrops (39 per cent of the total), monkfish (14 per cent) and haddock (10 per cent).

The Marine Scotland report shows that there were 228 registered fishing vessels at Fraserburgh at December 31, 2020, which was 11 per cent of the Scottish total of 2088, and the second highest number after Shetland (232). Peterhead had only 105 registered vessels.

There were 805 registered fishers – 17 per cent of the national total. That was the highest number in the country and double the 399 in Peterhead.

The obvious conclusion is that locally registered vessels are landing many of their catches elsewhere, notably in Peterhead.