Proposals to close fishing for sandeel in all Scottish waters: consultation

Closes 13 Oct 2023

Opened 21 Jul 2023


Given the importance of sandeel to the wider ecosystem and the subsequent benefit in aiding long-term sustainability and resilience of the marine environment, it remains an overarching Scottish Government position, which is reflected in Scotland’s Fisheries Management Strategy, not to support fishing for sandeel in our waters. For this reason, the UK, supported by the Scottish Government, has not allocated sandeel quota since 2021.

There are several measures in place for the protection of sandeel stocks, through the network of Marine Protected Areas. Furthermore, a closure in sandeel management area 4 has been in place since 2000, for the purpose of avoiding bycatch of cod and haddock in the area, and to avoid negative impacts on the food supply for seabirds. The Scottish Government has responsibility for the part of the closed area which lies in Scottish waters. 

Following the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands in May, the Scottish Government now wishes to consult on proposals to close fishing for sandeel in all Scottish waters to further ensure the sustainability of the sandeel stock, as well as providing wider ecosystem benefits.

This consultation sets out the key issues that need to be considered in determining whether to close fishing for sandeel in all Scottish waters, subject to views received in response. The Scottish Government wishes to consult on proposals to close fishing for sandeel in Scottish waters that meet as far as possible the following aims:

  1. To seek effective protection of sandeel, as a contribution to the wider marine ecosystem.
  2. To provide the opportunity for wider ecosystem benefits to a range of species, including commercial fish species, seabirds and marine mammals, that will also improve resilience to changes in the marine environment.
  3. To complement, as far as possible, existing sandeel management measures.

Read the full consultation paper.

Links to supporting documents are provided in the Related section at the bottom of this page.

Give us your views


  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Marine and Fisheries
  • Main hub