Scotland as a case study for how benefits of marine ecosystem services may contribute to the commercial fishing industry

Elsevier, Marine Policy, Volume 93, July 2018, Pages 271-283
Esther Brooker, Emilie Devenport, Charlotte Rachael Hopkins, Sebastian Hennige, ... Calum Duncan


In July 2015, Scotland became one of the first countries to sign up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which, unlike their forerunner the Millennium Development Goals, are not restricted to developing nations. Their respective targets should drive policy decisions for Scottish fisheries, in keeping with the universal intent of the new goals. This paper explores the relevance of SDG 14 to the Scottish fishing industry, noting that there are a number of linkages with other goals and targets that should be considered within management frameworks. Scottish fishing has a long history, but the size of the inshore fleet has seen decline in recent decades, particularly of small-scale fishers in rural communities. Available literature was reviewed and a survey of active Scottish fishers conducted to explore the current availability and equality of distribution of benefits from ecosystem services to Scottish fisheries, and the factors that affect them. The findings suggest that benefits may not currently be equally distributed across Scottish fisheries; this is largely sector dependent and driven by market forces, but also relates to gaps in current management and monitoring systems. Furthermore, the potential benefits to fisheries of marine protected areas (MPAs) established for conservation purposes are not adequately assessed as part of their design, which may result in less support from fisheries stakeholders and reduce the benefit to ecosystem services. It concludes with some recommendations for consideration by decision-makers to improve how fishing businesses and communities could benefit more from ecosystem services whilst operating within environmental limits.