Shellfish fishing, traditionally associated with crofting areas, has expanded greatly in Scotland generally, and particularly in the Inner Hebrides, during the past 30 years. Landings from Inner Hebrides waters in 1979 were valued at about £11 millions. Processing factories and storage installations have facilitated marketing.
The seas around the Inner Hebrides provide a wide variety of habitats, from the fine mud necessary for Norway lobsters, through the sandy gravel on which scallops live, to the rocky sea bed inhabited by lobsters.
The most valuable fisheries, those for Norway lobsters and scallops, are post-war developments. In both, the stocks appear to be in a healthy state. Landings in the traditional lobster fishery have declined recently and the stocks are giving some cause for concern. Periwinkles and queens make useful contributions to the economy. Pink shrimps and squat lobsters, though not sufficiently abundant to support a directed fishery, form a useful, occasional by-catch. Squids are caught sporadically, but their availability is very variable. The crab stocks could stand much greater exploitation.