Fleet statistics

The Seafish economics team has published annual reports, based on its economic surveys of the UK fishing fleet. The '2016 Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet' 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 £775 million in 2015 to around £920 million in 2016. The increase in fishing income is mostly due to higher average prices of all species groups in 2016. The average price per tonne landed was £1,318. With the exception of 2011 this was the highest average price during the time series, both nominally and adjusted for inflation.
  • The number of active fishing vessels increased from 4,576 in 2015 to 4,607 in 2016. Of these vessels, around 1,700 were classed as low activity vessels with a fishing income of less than £10,000 in 2016.
  • Seafish estimates that total expenditure on marine fuel was £98 million in 2015, representing a 30% decrease from 2014. Fuel cost as a proportion of total income remained at around 12%. Total spend on marine fuel in 2016 was an estimated £94 million.
  • Total fleet operating profit was an estimated £170 million in 2015, and increased by 22% in 2016 to £207 million. Operating profit as a proportion of total income was stable at around 20% in both 2015 and 2016.
  • Around 700 face-to-face interviews with skippers and vessel owners took place during the summer of 2016. These interviews highlighted issues such as the availability and cost of quota, fuel price and market issues - such as the price of fish - as the main factors impacting the financial performance of businesses. The first three issues of Quay Issues magazine investigated these concerns in more detail, looking at innovative approaches to tackle the challenges faced by the industry.
  • When ambitions for the next few years were discussed, answers were mixed. Vessel owners and skippers mentioned several factors when discussing business limitations and uncertainty including quota, rising operating costs, competition, status of stocks, fish prices, the future political landscape and of course, 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.