Fishing data and insight

We gather and analyse economic performance data about commercial fishing in the UK together with fleet numbers, landing figures and employment.

As an island nation, commercial fishing is an important sector in the UK. Each year, we collect and analyse economic performance, landings and employment data. This provides the industry and Government with a view on the performance of the sector. 

Our data comes from a number of sources including our own annual UK Fishing Fleet Survey. 

We also collect and analyse data from other Government departments and executive agencies including the Marine Management Organisation's (MMO) landing figures and employment figures from Governments.

Our most recent data comes from our Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet 2019 Report. 

What size is the commercial fishing fleet in the UK?

  • There are 4,491 active fishing vessels in the UK. Around 74% of these vessels are under 10 meters in length so tend to operate in inshore waters (less than six miles from the shore).
  • By country, 2,154 (48%) of those active vessels are based in England and 1,183 (38%) are based in Scotland. There are 291 active vessel in Wales and 243 in Northern Ireland.

What is the turnover of the UK fishing fleet?

In 2019, turnover of the UK fishing fleet was £1 billion. This is a slight decrease from £1.03 billion in 2018. This is due to:

• Total fishing income of the fleet which decreased to £980 million in 2019 from £1.01 billion in 2018 as total weight of landings decreased by 12%.

• Total operating costs of the UK fleet were £788 million in 2018, decreasing to £761 million in 2019 as fuel costs went down. 

Overall, total operating profit in 2019 hasn't been impacted and remains at £240m compared to £238m in 2018.

What does the UK fishing fleet catch and land?

The UK fishing fleet landed 620 thousand tonnes of fish and shellfish in 2019. The majority of landings were made in the UK, with Peterhead, Lerwick and Fraserburgh being the main UK landing ports by weight. Landings
abroad took place mainly in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland.

The top species landed in the UK by weight based on 2019 data are:

  • Mackerel (152,000 tonnes)
  • Herring (75,000 tonnes)
  • Blue whiting (61,000 tonnes)
  • Langoustine (known as Nethrops, 35,000 tonnes)
  • Haddock (34,000 tonnes)

The top species landed in the UK by value based on 2019 data are:

  • Mackerel (£182 million)
  • Langoustine (known as Nethrops, £116 million)
  • Brown crab (£74 million)
  • Scallops (£ 59 million)
  • Monkfish (£54 million)

How many people are employed in the fishing fleet in the UK?

There are 8,012 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs on board fishing vessels in the UK. This figures is based on MMO employment data and hours worked by crew reported to Seafish by fishing vessel owners in the UK.

Scotland employs the most people on fishing vessels (3,829 FTEs) following by England (3,230 FTEs), Northern Ireland (705 FTEs) then Wales (140 FTEs).

Quay Issues magazine

Quay Issues explores 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.

When speaking to fishing vessel owners each year, we uncover countless individual stories.

You can read the 2018 magazine on Issu by clicking on the image below. 

We are working to making printed copies of Quay Issues 6 available. To request a printed copy of Quay Issues, email