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Saturday, 3 November 2018

Just published - Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet 2017

Overall, the performance of the UK fishing fleet in 2017 was largely similar
to that of 2016. Particular changes in average prices, income and costs
are discussed in the following points.

• The total number of active fishing vessels increased from 4,637 in 2016 to 4,701 in 2017. Of these active vessels, around 1,500 were classed by Seafish as low activity vessels with a fishing income of less than £10,000. 
• Total fishing income for UK vessels increased from £946million in 2016 to £984million in 2017 (nominal figures). The increase in fishing income was mostly due to higher average prices of shellfish species in 2017, therefore vessels relying on shellfish for income benefitted most. 
• The total operating profit of the UK fishing fleet in 2017 was an estimated £254million. This is a 4% decrease (in nominal terms) from 2016, when it reached £265million. The average operating profit margin of the fleetdecreased from 22% in 2016 to 19% in 2017. 
• The decrease in operating profit was largely driven by an increase in the fleet operating costs, which was mainly due to a higher annual average price of fuel in 2017. In nominal terms, the average price of fuel increased by 73% between January 2016 and December 2017. Total spend on fuel of the fleet increased by 26% (in nominal terms) in 2017 to an estimated £119million compared to 2016. Operating costs increased from 78% of total income in 2016 to 81% of total income in 2017. 
• Seafish researchers interviewed around 400 skippers and vessel owners during the summer of 2017. These interviews highlighted issues such as the abundance of fish, access to quota, fuel price, weather and other issues as the main factors impacting the financial performance of businesses. Seafish’s Quay Issues magazine investigates these concerns in more detail, looking at innovative approaches to tackle the challenges faced by the industry. 
• Interviewees reported a mixture of ambitions for the next few years.
Vessel owners and skippers mentioned several factors when discussing business limitations and uncertainty including the future political and trade landscape, abundance of fish, oil price, quota access and the weather.

NB: All financial estimates for 2017 will be revised when vessel accounts for that year are available in early 2019. A new annual report will be published based on updated estimates.