Commercial and Economic use the Forth

Here you will find information on the Commercial and Economic use of the Forth .

If you want to  read about how the Forth has been used in the past,  visit our History of the Forth section.

Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm – Red Rock Power Limited

The proposed Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm development, expected to begin offshore construction in early 2021 in the Firth of Forth, will power over 500,000 homes a year with renewable energy. The project will support the UK Government’s targets to deliver 30GW of offshore wind by 2030 and the Scottish Government’s ambitious vision for Scotland to be carbon-neutral by 2040. 

Inch Cape – owned by Red Rock Power Limited subsidiary, Inch Cape Offshore Limited (ICOL) – will consist of up to 72 turbines and see electricity exported along an 85km cable route to a grid connection at Cockenzie, in East Lothian. The wind farm, one of three developments in the Forth and Tay, will allow us to utilise the country’s wealth of natural resources to generate sustainable energy, minimise our reliance on fossil fuels and help tackle the global climate change emergency.

As well as supporting green energy targets, the project will create significant benefits to the local, Scottish and UK economies. During construction alone, Inch Cape will create at least 858 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) jobs and contribute £558m the UK economy (based on worst case generation scenario). Inch Cape is continuing to collaborate with its key contractors to maximise opportunities for Scottish and UK businesses, including local renewable and ancillary service providers, where possible.

Inch Cape recently secured consent for a new, alternative offshore proposal which will see fewer but higher capacity turbines. The new design for up to 72 turbines (compared to 110) will significantly improve the wind farm’s efficiency and project economics, reducing the cost to the end user. As well as significantly reducing construction time and costs, the new design will also reduce the risk of potential environmental impacts.

Red Rock Power and the Inch Cape team are continuing to engage with environmental organisations and the commercial fishing industry to ensure we can all co-exist and protect the local environment.  A seabird and marine mammal survey, in partnership with other local wind farm projects, is underway to collect valuable data across development sites in the Forth and Tay. Monthly surveys will be conducted over the course of the next year to provide a large data set including population distribution in the area. This data will be used to help answer unknown questions on how birds and marine mammals interact with wind farms during construction and operation and help to identify any potential impacts and better inform mitigation strategies. Inch Cape is also continuing to work closely with the local fishermen to ensure that disruption during any offshore investigations is minimised insofar as possible.

For more information on the project, visit or

Fife Fishing Industry

Fife Fishing Industry




The Fife Fishing industry is important to the economy of the East Nuek, the main fleet and onshore support infrastructure is centred  around the village of Pittenweem, although some landings also taking place elsewhere. Other working harbours from which commercial vessels operate include Methil, Burntisland & St. Andrews.

The Fishing fleet:

Most Fife fishing businesses are engaged in In-shore fishing (usually within 12nMiles of the shoreline) and are small ventures, often single vessel operations- typically an owner/ skipper with no more than one or two crew. 90% of these boats are under 10 metres in length.  Pittenweem is considered to have the largest inshore feet in Scotland.

The Fife fleet is heavily reliant on shellfish, particularly prawns, lobsters & crabs, from in-shore fishing grounds in the Forth Estuary. Shellfish tends to have a relatively high market value and has accounted for over 95% of landings, in terms of both quantity & value, in the last 5 years.

Prawns (also known as Nephrops) are the main catch, caught by trawling. The total value of landings was in 2014 was around £3.5Mn, £890K higher than in 2013. The total amount of catch can be affected by the weather conditions. Prawns continue to be the main species landed with a value of almost £2.5Mn landed. In contrast, the value of white fish landed was only a little over £2.5K

However, the inshore boats are largely dependent on these local fishing grounds, having limited range, and being constrained by lack of capital and licence/ quota regulations from fishing in other areas and/or diversifying into other fisheries.


There are presently around 120 active vessels operating from Pittenweem Administrative District, (which approximates to Fife), employing 165 regular & part-time fishermen

However, if self-employment on vessels, onshore processing & distribution are also taken into account, the estimated number of jobs in the Fife fishing industry is likely to exceed 250.

Inshore Fisheries Groups:

Since 1984, inshore fisheries in Scotland have been regulated primarily through the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984. This Act provides for Ministers to regulate fishing for sea fish in inshore waters.

It is the responsibility of each IFG to produce and implement a management plan for inshore fisheries in their area, which is in keeping with Scottish Ministers’ objectives of sustainable and well-managed inshore fisheries that support thriving coastal communities. Even though they are not statutory bodies, IFGs must conduct their business in accordance with a constitution, as developed by each IFG along the guidelines set out by the Scottish Government, which is committed to supporting the IFGs in their work.

Inshore fisheries (out to 6 miles) management has been generally ignored in Scotland, whereas the English first had a bylaw relating to inshore management, as long ago as 1890. The probable reason for this neglect has been the profile of the Scottish fleet, which was generally made up of larger fishing vessels, fishing primarily for whitefish, on grounds outwards of  inshore areas. This fleet/type of fishing has been substantially reduced in recent times, through three rounds of decommissioning, carried out in 2001(Scotland), 2003(England) and 2005(UK) Because of whitefish quota cuts, other whitefish vessels have been displaced to Nephrop fishing. Furthermore in 2010, a vessel parking scheme effectively has seen more over 10 metre vessels taken out of fishing.

The biggest changes have in the fleet profile have been at Arbroath, Pittenweem and Eyemouth, where through a combination of changing sectors and fishermen leaving the fishing industry, there have been dramatic reductions in some sectors. In Pittenweem, as recently as three years ago, there were around 30 Pittenweem-based Nephrop trawlers – now there are 20.  Three former Nephrop trawler master/owners have sold their Nephrop trawlers and bought creel vessels, thus increasing the fishing effort/creel numbers.

Fife Harbours:


Here, there are modern market facilities, a Harbour Office with a harbour master and deputy harbour master and ice and fuel supply services. It has a modern market, which opened in 1994 and the entire necessary infrastructure for a modern fishing harbour. Home to twenty Nephrop trawlers, 10 creel vessels(a couple of which also fish for bi-valves) as well as seasonal visitors, the harbour sees daily landings of langoustine, lobster, brown and velvet crab, as well as less frequent landings of surf clam, razor clam and scallop.

There are also seasonal landings fisheries for mackerel in the summer months, and squid, also in the summer months. If you add the occasional landing of whelks and halibut, you have an accurate picture.

There are approximately 5,000 vessel landings a year; on average a dozen landings a day. Landings are predominately Nephrop, lobster, brown crab, velvet crab, great scallop, surf clam, razor clam, whelks, as well as squid and mackerel. There is little whitefish landed, and halibut for a period, was the most commonly landed whitefish species! The last haddock vessels were sold away from Pittenweem in 2000. More recently, several vessels have been landing Nephrop in tubes, where quality is paramount. This effectively is a value added product for export to Spain.

Pittenweem is the domain of the Fife Mutual Fishermen’s Association and market landings are handled by them. All the catches are sold by contract, and Fishermen’s Mutual Association (Pittenweem) Ltd lorries take the catches away, usually on the day of landing, or the following morning. The vast majority of Nephrop is exported to France, Italy and Spain.

Lobster, brown crab and velvet crab are collected by Imex International and mainly all go to Spain for export. Shellfish landed at nearby Anstruther is collected by Ivor McBay shellfish of Gourdon and Buckhaven Shellfish of Methil.

The Pittenweem based creel vessels tend to sail every weekday, to check their fleets of creels. They land their catches of lobster and crab in the early afternoon, and they are stored live in vivier tanks on the market.  They all fish local grounds, with some venturing further afield to grounds such as the Bell Rock. Creel vessels work the majority of their creels in fleets of 10, and some vessels fish more than 1,000 creels.

The squid fishing is sporadic, with some years seeing a good fishing of squid from June until September. Catches fluctuate, with the biggest catches of over thirty boxes/day. All the squid (caught in the south-east and landed at Pittenweem, is consigned to Fraserburgh market for sale. Vessels fishing for squid, are Nephrop trawlers, who put on squid trawls for this fishery. Again the bulk of the catches are destined for export.


It is a drying harbour, and on average tides, there is a window of around six hours on each tide, when vessels can arrive or leave. The harbour, built by Dutch engineers in the 1600 century, contains a fleet of 10 creel vessels, who mainly fish for lobster. The vessels are all under 10 metres. They tend to leave in the morning, landing back mid-morning to midday. The catches are sold to Deveron Shellfish, who has Vivier premises at Crail harbour. The catches are ‘graded ‘and kept in lobster trays according to size and condition. Depending on supply the lobster are then trucked up to Deveron Shellfish main premises in Macduff.

St Andrews

A drying harbour, with on average tides, a window of four hours for departure, or arrival on each tide. There are a dozen under 10 metre creel vessels based here, mainly fishing the prolific water of St Andrews Bay, with a few venturing further afield. As is the case in Crail, lobsters are the main catch, with the vessels fishing on a daily basis, mainly on weekdays. Collections of lobster are made by Deveron Shellfish and Ivor McBay on a weekly basis.


The great size of this harbour gives a clue to its past, when it was home to more than 100 herring drifters. These days, it is increasingly used by yachts, and more and more of the harbour’s area is given over to pontoons. There is still a fleet of six creel vessels using this harbour, though the last Nephrop trawler was sold in 2010. There are harbour offices with a Harbour Master, a Lifeboat Station, and the Anstruther Fishery Office is situated near the harbour. A mile to the east lies the small harbour at Cellardyke. This harbour shelters a small fleet, one of which is a creel vessel.

St Monan

Again the size of the harbour attests to the size of the fleet that used this harbour in the past. There was until recently, a shipbuilding yard, Miller’s of St Monans which had been in operation for over two hundred years, and had built many fishing vessels. These days the harbour is used by around six creel vessels. There is a part time harbour master at St Monans.


Methil docks are owned by Forth Ports, the docks, aside from commercial cargo activity, has several fishing vessels based at the adjacent fairway. The fleet of Nephrop trawlers has diminished, from the five or six that were operating from here 10 years ago, to one. There is however a more substantial creel fleet, which numbers six. There are also around six vessels that carry divers when fishing for razor clams.

The fishing vessels berth at the wooden fairway, where catches are also landed. There is no ice plant at Methil. There are large numbers of privately owned craft, and some of these fish recreationally for lobster, crab and fish. Shellfish are collected at Methil by various shellfish vivier trucks.



In addition to being a harbour for two creel vessels and a couple of scallop dredgers, is also a dock and the base for Briggs of Burntisland. In days gone by, such was the importance of the sprat that there was a railhead at Burntisland, where sprats were taken by train to the pet food factory at Melton Mowbray.



Nephrop trawl quota:

The Nephrop trawl fishery is fished by vessels which are allocated quota in one of the following ways:

  • Producer Organisation (PO) Members are allocated their quota by the PO Manager for a given PO.
  • The majority of the vessels in the Fife Fishermen’s PO.Under 10 metre vessels who are allocated their quota (vessel monthly allocation) by the Government.
  • Non Sector over 10 metre vessels not in a PO who are allocated their quota (vessel monthly allocation) by the Government.
  • Currently the fishery is open all year, and the minimum landing size for Nephrop of carapace length 24 mm carapace length, total length 85mm. Nephrop trawls must have a square mesh panel fitted, to reduce discards of whitefish.

Defence of the Realm

The Forth has long been associated with naval dockyards from the 1500s when great ships were built Higgin Neuk through to the present day when the dockyard at Rosyth has seen the building of not one , but two great aircraft carriers, The Queen Elizabeth (launched in June 2017) and the Prince of Wales (launched September 2019). The future of ship building on the Forth looks set to continue was it was recently announced that the operators of the Rosyth facility have won a contract to build  five Royal Navy Type 31 frigates. 

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