New figures released today have revealed the UK's fishing fleet turnover has reached £1billion for the first time.
The figures have been published by Seafish, the public body supporting the UK seafood industry from catch to plate, in its 'Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet 2017' report. It analyses the performance of the catching sector and is based on the most recent annual accounts available for fishing vessels.
The report also reveals that total fishing income for UK vessels increased from £946million in 2016 to £984million in 2017. This increase was mainly due to a higher average price of shellfish species, while the sector also saw a higher value of landings in 2017.
The total number of active fishing vessels also increased from 4,637 in 2016 to 4,701 in 2017.
However, operating profit decreased slightly despite the higher value of landings, dropping to an estimated £254million, a 4% decrease from 2016.
The decrease in operating profit was driven by an increase in fleet operating costs which was mainly due to a higher annual average fuel price in 2017. In nominal terms, the average price of fuel increased by 73% between January 2016 and December 2017 with total spend on fuel increasing by 26%.
Seafish also interviewed skippers and vessel owners from across the UK while compiling this report and interviewees reported a mixture of ambitions for the next few years. They mentioned several factors when discussing business limitations citing uncertainty over the future political and trade landscape, abundance of fish, oil price, quota access and unpredictable weather patterns as key concerns.
Steve Lawrence, Economics Project Manager, said: "These are promising figures for the UK fishing fleet with turnover reaching a landmark £1billion. Although operating profit is down, mainly due to increased fuel prices, we have seen some really strong numbers particularly for those vessels catching shellfish species.
"We'd like to thank the several hundred skippers and vessel owners from across the UK who took part in our interviews and provided the data to inform this report. The industry needs data in order to innovate and thrive and we would encourage the industry to get involved whenever they can. "