There is currently a strong political drive for the development of the marine renewable energy industry in Europe, particularly in Scotland. However, little is known regarding the potential impacts upon and opportunities for the fishing industry. Furthermore, there has been little discussion of potential mitigation measures. In depth interviews were conducted with fishers based on the west coast of Scotland to address the gap in knowledge of the potential conflict between offshore renewable energy development and commercial fishers. The key aim of this study was to ascertain the underlying needs of fishers. Three key issues were identified: i) A potential loss of livelihood is of largest concern to fishers; ii) Skills shortages are a potential problem should a loss of livelihood occur; iii) Fishers have varied opinions regarding the potential benefits arising from offshore renewable energy induced changes to the ecosystem. The key needs of fishers were determined to be continued security of employment and income, and control of one's own life through decision-making based on fact. However, further research is required to answer the question: how can these basic needs be satisfied? (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.