Moray Firth Inshore Fisheries

The UK has exclusive rights to fish within 6 nautical miles (nm) of its coastline. Between 6 and 12 nm, fishing by non-UK vessels is restricted to those with historic rights relating to specific fisheries and specific countries. Through Devolution, Scottish Ministers are responsible for the regulation of sea fishing around Scotland and within 12 nm of Scotland's coast, the Scottish Government has the ability to take non-discriminatory conservation measures, provided that the EU has not already legislated in this area.  Since 1984, inshore fisheries in Scotland have been regulated primarily through the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984.  Read more...

Inshore fisheries have tended to be overlooked in terms of management and development compared to their offshore counterparts, yet they fulfil vital social and economic roles in coastal communities.  Inshore operations involve thousands of small-scale enterprises operating with or without boats around many small landing sites, often on remote coastlines.  Activity is often seasonal or part-time and can form one of a mix of income sources in rural coastal areas.  Data quality relating to inshore fisheries is thus often poor compared to that for larger, offshore operations and their management and scientific support tends to be given lower priority. National or regional management measures are often inappropriate at the inshore scale.  

This situation has in many cases led to calls for local “bottom-up” management whereby local operators become involved in management measures that directly affect them.  In Scotland, where two-thirds of all fishing vessels are under 10m, and mostly working in inshore waters,  this process commenced with a review of options in 2002, which led to the publication of a Strategic Framework for Scottish Inshore Fisheries in 2005, and subsequently to the establishment of six Inshore Fishery Groups (IFGs) in early 2010.

IFG’s are unincorporated associations of fishermen (or their representatives) who work inshore grounds and aim to produce a collective view, via their IFG Executive Committee, of fisheries management needs for their particular area.  Local management priorities are set out in Fisheries Management Plans which are reviewed by two advisory bodies before being signed off by Ministers and appropriate elements passed into legislation.  IFGs are supported by local coordinators who are funded by Scottish Government but otherwise their activities are almost entirely funded in- kind by industry and other participants.  IFGs represent a new way for the inshore industry to engage with central government and for operators to work together to achieve common aims at a local level. Read more...

(Source: Inshore Fisheries Groups In Scotland: Early Review and Policy Appraisal, 2010)

The Moray Firth IFG was one of the first six pilot IFGs to be launched. Nick Lake is the co-ordinator and information on the constitution, advisory group and executive committee membership and minutes of the executive committee meetings can all be found on the Scottish Government web site here. The Inshore Fisheries Group Scotland Map shows the designated areas for each IFG in Scotland.


A review of IFGs was undertaken mid-2010, with an emphasis on the economic role of IFGs. The aims of the review were to assess operations of IFGs so far, to gather evidence on costs and benefits associated with IFGs and to review alternative options to the current IFG system for managing inshore fisheries.  Read more....  

Other sources of information on inshore fisheries can be found at the Scottish Fisheries Co-ordination Centre (SFCC).  The SFCC was established in 1997 to meet the need for high quality fisheries information and standard data collection methods in the light of a growing awareness of salmonid decline throughout Scotland. The SFCC is an association of Fisheries Trusts, District Salmon Fishery Boards, Fisheries Research Services Freshwater Laboratory, the Scottish Government and others interested in the sound management of salmon and freshwater fisheries in Scotland and directly involved in fisheries data collection and use.