UK seafood industry struggling to shrug off “employer of last resort” reputation

A crew of a U.K. fishing vessel at work.

Large sections of the United Kingdom’s seafood economy continue to struggle in their efforts to build up and maintain the workforces necessary to optimize their operations, despite efforts from the government to ease labor burdens.

According to a March survey of 1,330 companies involved in the U.K. seafood industry by U.K. public body Seafish, recruitment challenges exist in both the fisheries and processing sectors, and on the catching side, a majority of vessel owners reported struggling to recruit workers and fill vacancies.

The survey, which contacted companies representing nearly 20 percent of the sector, found firms with larger vessels and companies operating more than one fishing vessel are those most frequently short of labor. Overall, though, there remains a shortage of deckhands across all vessel types and sizes, Seafish confirmed to SeafoodSource. The Seafish survey found 62 percent of respondents are reporting more deckhand vacancies this year versus three years ago, and 70 percent of respondents said it now takes much longer to recruit deckhands than in 2020.

The perception of the seafood industry as having poor pay, unsociable hours, and challenging working conditions has contributed to a persistent decline in ... 

Photo courtesy of Seafish

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