Marine Scotland requires a detailed understanding of fishing activity in Scottish Territorial Waters to inform marine spatial planning at both the national and regional level, and in relation to marine renewable energy development, marine nature conservation designations and fisheries management. For larger fishing vessels (those over 15 m overall length) which fish mainly in offshore waters, spatially resolved information on the activity and the value of fishing can be derived from Vessel Monitoring Systems ( VMS) and landings data. The competition for space is, however, often greatest in inshore waters where most fishing is undertaken by small vessels which are not currently fitted with VMS. To improve knowledge of the distribution of fishing activity and the value of fisheries in inshore waters, Marine Scotland carried out a fisheries mapping study known as ScotMap.
ScotMap provides spatial information on the fishing activity of Scottish registered commercial fishing vessels under 15 m in overall length. The data were collected during face-to-face interviews with individual vessel owners and operators and relate to fishing activity for the period 2007 to 2011. Interviewees were asked to identify the areas in which they fish, and to provide associated information on their fishing vessel, species targeted, fishing gear used and income from fishing.
The dataset, as of July 2013, is based on interviews of 1,090 fishermen who collectively identified 2,634 fishing areas or 'polygons', the majority of which relate to creel (pot) fishing. The data collected were aggregated and analysed to provide raster data and mapped outputs of the monetary value, relative importance (relative value) and the usage (number of fishing vessels and number of crew) of seas around Scotland. Examples of the mapped outputs for subsets of the data representing the main types of fishery prosecuted by the under 15 m fleet, and for the combined data set, are presented and discussed.
Not all fishermen initially targeted for the ScotMap project were interviewed (72% vessel coverage overall) and not all those interviewed provided earnings information (10% earnings disclosure decline rate overall). Individuals defined their fishing areas with variable levels of precision. Users of the data should be aware of this, particularly of the coverage provided by the ScotMap data which varies regionally.