The SFA acts primarily as a pressure group representing the views of members to all levels of Government. It is actively involved in discussions not only in Shetland, but also at the Edinburgh and Westminster Parliaments and within the European Union. The diversity of membership is reflected by the separate Sub Committees representing pelagic, whitefish and small boats interests. However, the Association policy is determined by an annually-elected Executive Committee. As well as providing political representation, the Association continues to operate a Group Life Assurance Scheme on behalf of its membership.
The SFA is also closely involved in fishing training through the Shetland Fisheries Training Association and the North Atlantic Fisheries College.