Earlier studies have indicated that the gross nearshore wave energy resource is significantly smaller than the gross offshore wave energy resource implying that the deployment of wave energy converters in the nearshore is unlikely to be economic. However, it is argued that the gross wave energy resource is not an appropriate measure for determining the productivity of a wave farm and an alternative measure, the exploitable wave energy resource, is proposed. Calculation of a site's potential using the exploitable wave energy resource is considered superior because it accounts for the directional distribution of the incident waves and the wave energy plant rating that limits the power capture in highly energetic sea-states. A third-generation spectral wave model is used to model the wave transformation from deep water to a nearshore site in a water depth of 10 m. It is shown that energy losses result in a reduction of less than 10% of the net incident wave power. Annual wave data for the North Atlantic coast of Scotland is analysed and indicates that whilst the gross wave energy resource has reduced significantly by the 10 m depth contour, the exploitable wave energy resource is reduced by 7 and 22% for the two sites analysed. This limited reduction in exploitable wave energy resource means that for many exposed coasts, nearshore sites offer similar potential for exploitation of the wave energy resource as offshore sites.