In Norway, structuring of the fishing fleet has been an ongoing process since the start of the 1960'ies. Since then, both the number of vessels in Norwegian fisheries and fishers have been reduced by roughly 85 %. For decades, the fisheries industry has been considered a mean to employment and settlement in rural coastal areas. As a general rule, it was not until recently that it was opened for ITQ-fashioned merging of licenses on one vessels (2004). One vessel group, however, is exempted from such market based re-structuring measures: The smallest vessels in the coastal fleet - the most numerous vessels, both within pelagic and demersal fisheries. Their role has hithereto been found too important, as supplier of fish to local processors, and as recruiting arena and employment alternative - a role under pressure both within and outside the fisheries industry. In this paper we explore the development in this vessel group, over various dimensions (number of vessel, catch volume and value, regulatory measures, profitability, etc.) while highlighting findings against the development in other parts of the fleet. Findings are discussed, and implications for industry actors and management are underlined.