Fishing data and insight

We collect and analyse data on the economic performance of the UK commercial fishing fleet.

Access our latest datasets and reports on the economic performance of the UK's fishing fleet on the following links below. 

We have produced this tutorial video to support new users of our Fleet Enquiry Tool.

What size is the UK commercial fishing fleet?

In 2020 there were 4,301 active fishing vessels in the UK. Around 61% of these vessels were under 10 meters in length and tended to operate in inshore waters (less than six miles from the shore).

By country, 2,027 (48%) of those active vessels were based in England and 1,714 (41%) were based in Scotland. There were 258 active vessels in Wales and 225 in Northern Ireland.

What are the turnover and profit of the UK fishing fleet?

In 2020 turnover of the UK fishing fleet was £843 million. Operating profit was £217 million.

What does the UK fishing fleet land?

The UK fishing fleet landed 620 thousand tonnes of fish and shellfish in 2020.

By weight, the top species landed by the UK fleet in 2020 were:

  • Mackerel (205,000 tonnes)
  • Herring (75,000 tonnes)
  • Blue whiting (52,000 tonnes)
  • Haddock (29,000 tonnes)
  • Cod (25,000 tonnes)

By value, the top species landed by the UK fleet in 2020 were:

  • Mackerel (£209 million)
  • Nephrops (also known as langoustine, £63 million)
  • Cod (£49 million)
  • Monkfish (£48 million)
  • Brown crab (£44 million)

In 2020 76% landings by the UK fleet (by weight) were made in the UK. Peterhead, Lerwick and Fraserburgh were the main UK landing ports. UK landings abroad were mainly to ports in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland.

How many people are employed in the UK fishing fleet?

In 2020 there were 5,986 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs on board UK fishing vessels. This figure is calculated based on MMO effort data and data on hours worked by crew reported to Seafish by UK vessel owners.

How have Covid-19 and Brexit impacted the UK fishing fleet?

Turnover, costs and operating profit of the UK fleet decreased in 2020 due to Covid-19 and lockdown measures. Turnover, which had been above the £1 billion mark for the previous three years, fell to £843 million in 2020 (a 17% reduction). Operating profit fell by 19% from £264 million in 2019 to £217 million in 2020.

Different parts of the fleet had different experiences in 2020. Vessels normally supplying shellfish into hospitality markets were acutely affected. Overall Nephrops trawlers and scallop dredgers saw fishing income drop by 39% in 2020 compared to 2019. Elsewhere those catching mackerel enjoyed higher quotas and relatively stable average prices.

Fleet Survey

Every year we collect and analyse data on earnings and costs of the UK fishing fleet via our annual survey. The data we collect, combined with official statistics on fleet numbers, landings and employment collected by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), provides industry and government with detailed insights on the economic performance of the sector.

Further information is available on the link below.

Quay Issues magazine

Quay Issues explores the challenges facing the fishing industry and showcases the creative and innovative ways that owners and managers are finding to make the industry more sustainable, efficient and safe. Access the latest issue on the link below. To request a printed copy, please email quayissues@seafish.co.uk