Fleet statistics

The Seafish economics team has published annual reports, based on its economic surveys of the UK fishing fleet. The 'Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet 2017' includes the most recent nationwide costs and earnings data on the UK catching sector.

The study presents the latest economics information on 33 segments of the commercially active UK fishing fleet. The main findings of the research are:

  • Total fishing income for UK vessels increased from £946million in 2016 to £984million in 2017 (nominal figures). The increase in fishing income was mostly due to higher average prices of shellfish species in 2017, therefore vessels relying on shellfish for income beneftted most.
  • The total number of active fishing vessels increased from 4,637 in 2016 to 4,701 in 2017. Of these active vessels, around 1,500 were classed by Seafish as low activity vessels with a fishing income of less than £10,000.
  • The total operating proft of the UK fishing fleet in 2017 was an estimated £254million. This is a 4% decrease (in nominal terms) from 2016, when it reached £265million. The average operating proft margin of the fleet decreased from 22% in 2016 to 19% in 2017.
  • The decrease in operating proft was largely driven by an increase in the fleet operating costs, which was mainly due to a higher annual average price of fuel in 2017. In nominal terms, the average price of fuel increased by 73% between January 2016 and December 2017. Total spend on fuel of the fleet increased by 26% (in nominal terms) in 2017 to an estimated £119million compared to 2016. Operating costs increased from 78% of total income in 2016 to 81% of total income in 2017.
  • Seafish researchers interviewed around 400 skippers and vessel owners during the summer of 2017. These interviews highlighted issues such as the abundance of fish, access to quota, fuel price, weather and other issues as the main factors impacting the financial performance of businesses. Seafsh's Quay Issues magazine investigates these concerns in more detail, looking at innovative approaches to tackle the challenges faced by the industry.
  • Interviewees reported a mixture of ambitions for the next few years. Vessel owners and skippers mentioned several factors when discussing business limitations and uncertainty including the future political and trade landscape, abundance of fish, oil price, quota access and the weather.

The full report can be read here.

The latest Seafish Fleet Economic Performance Dataset can be read here.

Reports from previous years can be accessed at our archive here.