Fishing data and insight
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In 2021 there were 4,269 active fishing vessels in the UK. Around 64% of these vessels were under 10 meters in length. There were 6,835 people working on those fishing vessels (Full Time Equivalent jobs).
In 2021 turnover of the UK fishing fleet was £923 million. Operating profit was £240 million.
Catches by the UK fishing fleet
The UK fishing fleet landed 631 thousand tonnes of fish and shellfish in 2021 in the UK and abroad. The total value of landings in 2021 was £893m, which is a 9% increase from 2020.
By weight, the top species landed by the UK fleet in the UK and abroad in 2021 were:
- Mackerel (209,000 tonnes)
- Herring (77,000 tonnes)
- Blue whiting (74,000 tonnes)
- Norway Lobster (32,000 tonnes)
- Scallops (29,000 tonnes)
By value, the top species landed by the UK fleet in the UK and abroad in 2021 were:
- Mackerel (£223 million)
- Norway Lobster (£92 million)
- Crab (£63 million)
- Monkfish (£56 million)
- Scallops (£52m)
Fishing fleet around the UK
72% of the landings by the UK fleet (by weight) were made in the UK. The Scottish fleet is the most important in terms of landings value. Peterhead and Lerwick were the main UK landing ports. The English fleet has the most vessels. UK landings abroad were mainly to ports in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland.
More information on the UK catching sector is available in our annual Economics in the UK Fishing Fleet report. It presents economic estimates at UK, home nation and fleet segment level for the UK fishing fleet. You can get a copy of the latest report from the link below:
To access reports from previous years, please search for 'Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet' by using the search tool at the top of this webpage.
Our latest Employment in the UK Fishing Fleet report presents a snapshot from a sample of 268 vessels and 788 workers from across the UK catching sector. This data is taken from a survey in summer 2021.
Key findings from the report are:
- Overall, most workers in the sample (64%) were from the UK. (If we extrapolate to the whole of the UK fleet it would be 80%)
- Most non-UK workers were from the Philippines, Ghana and Latvia and employed as deckhands.
- The average age of employees sampled was 40, two years younger than the average of the sample collected in 2018.
- Deckhands were the youngest workers in the sample, with an average age of 34.
- The average age of vessel owners was 50, and of hired skippers, 43.
- Most workers in the sample (99%) were male.
- The largest proportion of female workers (21%) was among ‘other’ roles (vessel owners and onshore workers, for example administering business records).
You can download a copy of the full report, which also includes data on qualifications held and remuneration methods, from the link below.
The total fish and shellfish landed in the UK is caught by domestic and foreign vessels. In 2021, a total of 414 tonnes was landed with a value of £713 million. That is a volume decrease of 1% but a value increase of 9% from 2020.
By weight, the top species landed in the UK by domestic and foreign vessels in 2021 were:
- Mackerel (94,000 tonnes)
- Herring (41,000 tonnes)
- Nephrops (74,000 tonnes)
- Norway Lobster (32,000 tonnes)
- Scallops (29,000 tonnes)
By value, the top species landed by the UK fleet by domestics and foreign vessels in 2021 were:
- Mackerel (£106 million)
- Nephrops (£91 million)
- Crab (£59 million)
- Scallops (£55 million)
- Lobster (£52m)
Fleet Enquiry Tool
Our Economics team have captured summary data on the size, structure and economic performance of the UK catching sector and plotted it in a Tableau Fleet Enquiry Tool. You can access this online tool from the link below:
If you’d like to find out more about how to use the tool you can watch our fleet enquiry tool video tutorial below:
Multi annual UK fishing fleet estimates
This spreadsheet is a dataset presenting the annual economic performance for the UK fishing fleet. You can download a copy of the latest dataset from 2011 to 2021 from the link below:
UK Economic Fleet Estimates and Fleet Enquiry Tool methodology report
This report is a supporting document for the Seafish Fleet Enquiry Tool to the UK Economic Fleet Estimates and Seafish Fleet Enquiry Tool. It presents the data collection and estimation procedure methodologies we use to report on the size, structure and economic performance of the UK catching sector. You can download it from the link below:
Quay Issues is our annual magazine, exploring the stories behind the data. It looks at the challenges facing the fishing industry and showcases creative and innovative ways that the UK fleet are finding to make the industry more sustainable, efficient and safe.
The latest edition of Quay Issues includes stories on:
- Innovative industry: Understanding and responding to climate change
- Using the right bait: Back on track to an attractive seafood sector for new entrants
- Plot a clear course with Kingfisher
- 2021 Seafish Fleet Survey: Highlights on employment
- Safety at sea: Reporting incidents, accidents and near misses saves lives
- BATmap has landed: The latest tool to help reduce by-catch
- Catalysts revisited: More good news for over 10m fleet!
- My Local Catch: Fishing pot-ential in the Irish Sea
You can browse or download the latest issue from the links below:
Earlier editions of Quay Issues are available from the links below:
We collect economic data on the UK commercial fishing fleet annually. The employment data is collected every three years. Data is gathered by surveying skippers and vessel owners over the summer. It is then analysed and reviewed along with additional accounts information provided at the end of the financial year. In some reports we also refer to other data sources, such as landing statistics provided by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
You can find out more about our annual survey of the fishing fleet from the link below:
If you’d like further information on any of our fishing fleet data please contact our Economics team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.