ScotMap: Participatory mapping of inshore fishing activity to inform marine spatial planning in Scotland

Andronikos Kafas*, Anne McLay, Marianna Chimienti, Beth E. Scott, Ian Davies, Matthew Gubbins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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A detailed understanding of fishing activity in Scottish waters is required to inform marine spatial planning. Larger fishing vessels are fitted with Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) offering spatial information on fishing activity. VMS does not cover smaller vessels (under 15 m), which fish predominantly in inshore waters where the competition for space is often greatest. To improve knowledge of the distribution of fishing activity and value of fisheries in Scotland's inshore waters, Marine Scotland conducted a participatory fisheries mapping project, known as ScotMap. The data were collected during face-to-face interviews with 1090 fishermen of Scottish registered commercial fishing vessels under 15 m in overall length and relate to fishing activity for the period 2007–2011. Interviewees were asked to identify the areas in which they fish, estimate the contribution these areas make to vessel earnings, and to provide associated information. The majority of interviews relate to creel fishing. The data collected were aggregated to provide mapped outputs of the monetary value, relative importance to fishermen and the usage of the seas around Scotland (number of fishing vessels and number of crew). ScotMap outputs provide information on the locations of inshore fishing activities and the economic importance of different sea areas at a much higher spatial resolution than was previously possible. Outputs have informed marine policy development, provide a valuable resource for marine spatial planning in Scotland and illustrate how participatory mapping can generate useful resources on the location and importance of inshore fishing areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-18
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date9 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note


The authors would like to thank all the fishermen interviewed who gave freely of their time, fisheries compliance staff, government scientists, contractors and fishing industry representatives for their heroic efforts conducting interviews. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank all the staff in Marine Scotland who staffed the data verification workshops. Lastly, the authors would also like to thank colleagues Gareth Jones, Robert Watret, and Liam Mason for their advice and support during the project.

Marine Scotland has financially supported the data collection and conduct of research, as well as preparation and publishing of this article. The writing of this manuscript was also supported by the “Marine Collaboration Research Forum” writing retreat co-funded by Marine Scotland and the University of Aberdeen which took place in November 2015.


  • Inshore fishing
  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Participatory mapping
  • Scotland
  • ScotMap


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