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Commercial Fishing



Rising fuel price poses challenge but early economic estimates suggest business as usual for UK fishing fleet in 2018. Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry, has today published its latest economic performance estimates for the UK fishing fleet.

Based on preliminary landings data, the Seafish Fleet Economic Performance data includes the first economic performance estimates for 2018.


The figures show a solid year for the UK fleet, despite the challenge of increasing fuel costs. While there are differences within segments of the fleet, the fleet collectively saw a slight increase in fishing revenues to £978 million in 2018 from £975 million in 2017 (nominal figures.)


A 5% decrease in volume of fish landed (down from 720,000 tonnes in 2017 to 690,000 tonnes in 2018) was mitigated by a 5% increase on the average price per tonne landed. At £1,422, the average price per tonne landed is – in nominal terms – at its highest average price in the last ten years.


Fuel cost was a major factor in the 2018 figures with average annual fuel price 20% higher than 2017 and reaching over 50p per litre for the first time since 2014. Fuel costs as a proportion of total income rose from 11% in 2017 to 13% in 2018.

Total fleet operating profit fell slightly on 2017, decreasing 4% from £280 million profit to £268 million, but operating profit as a percentage of total income was largely static across the two years (26% in 2018 compared to 27% in 2017.)


The number of active fishing vessels in the UK fleet decreased from 4,709 in 2017 to 4,512 in 2018, with around 1,600 of these ‘low activity vessels’ with fishing income of less than £10,000.


Commenting on the results Steve Lawrence, Economics Project Manager at Seafish said:


“While the increase in the price of fuel has been substantial it has been mitigated to some extent by the increase in average price per tonne landed, meaning the UK fleet saw a slight increase in fishing revenues in 2018.


“In spite of the challenges and the undoubted uncertainties on the horizon it does appear that the catching sector is largely continuing with business as usual.”


The full Seafish fleet economic performance dataset for 2008-2018 giving more detail on the overall picture and on different segments of the fleet can be accessed at http://www.seafish.org/media/publications/March_2018_Seafish_Fleet_Economic_Performance_Dataset_2008-18.xlsx.The data will be updated in October.