UK fishing fleet turnover tops GBP 1 billion

Published on
November 6, 2018
UK fishing

The turnover achieved by the U.K. fishing fleet has reached GBP 1 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.1 billion) for the first time, finds new figures released by seafood public body Seafish.

In 2016, the fleet achieved a turnover of GBP 981 million (USD 1.28 billion, EUR 1.12 billion).

Seafish’s report, “Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet 2017,” which analyzes the performance of the catching sector and is based on the most recent annual accounts available for fishing vessels, also revealed that the total fishing income for U.K. vessels increased from GBP 946 million (USD 1.24 billion, EUR 1.08 billion) in 2016 to GBP 984 million (USD 1.29 billion, EUR 1.13 billion) last year.

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. In total, the fleet landed close to 719,000 metric tons (MT) of fish and shellfish with Peterhead, Lerwick, and Fraserburgh being the main U.K. landing ports by weight. 

The total number of active fishing vessels also increased from 4,637 in 2016 to 4,701 in 2017.

But despite the higher value of landings, the fleet’s operating profit fell by four percent to GBP 254 million (USD 331 million, EUR 289.2 million). This decrease was driven by an increase in fleet operating costs – mainly due to a higher annual average fuel price in 2017. 

In nominal terms, the average price of fuel increased by 73 percent between January 2016 and December 2017 with total spend on fuel increasing by 26 percent. 

Seafish also interviewed skippers and vessel owners from across the country while compiling its report and interviewees reported a mixture of ambitions for the next few years. The authority said 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.

“These are promising figures for the UK fishing fleet with turnover reaching a landmark GBP 1 billion. 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,” said Steve Lawrence, economics project manager at Seafish. “We’d like to thank the several hundred skippers and vessel owners from across the U.K. 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."

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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