|First Seafish economic performance estimates for 2020 show impact of pandemic on fishing industry|
|The total operating profit of the UK fishing fleet fell by almost a fifth in 2020 as the sector dealt with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Data published by Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry, shows that:
These totals include £18.6 million of grants paid directly to fishing businesses by the UK Government and devolved administrations. While this support helped some businesses to keep cash flows positive, many have reduced their fishing effort or changed the species they target to stay in business.
The total weight landed by the fleet was around 620 thousand tonnes. This was close to the 2019 figure. However, fishing income fell from £990 million in 2019 to £806 million in 2020. This was due to lower levels of fishing activity and lower fish prices.
Operating costs decreased from £757 million in 2019 to £629 million in 2020. This fall in costs is attributed to lower levels of activity and reduced fuel prices. The total spent by the fleet on fuel in 2020 was an estimated £91 million. This was 31% lower than in 2019. The average cost of fuel fell from 49.5 pence per litre in 2019 to 37.1 pence per litre in 2020.
Crew costs also decreased on the previous year, falling from £272 million to £216 million. With many workers on fishing vessels paid through crew share agreements this drop likely means a reduction in their incomes.
The total number of active fishing vessels fell from 4,548 in 2019 to 4,301 in 2020. More vessel operators licensed to fish opted to remain in the port in 2020. The number of inactive vessels grew to 1,692, a 16% increase on 2019.
Commenting on the results, Arina Motova, Chief Economist at Seafish said:
The figures are based on preliminary landings data and the results of Seafish’s 2020 survey of the UK fishing fleet.
This new data has now been added to Seafish’s interactive Fleet Enquiry Tool. An updated Seafish Fleet Economic performance dataset, which spans 2010-2020, has also been released. Both allow for the data to be broken down into fleet segments, by home nation and port of landing. Seafish has also published the latest edition of Quay Issues magazine. Links to these resources can be found on the Fishing data and insight page of the Seafish website.
The full 2020 Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet report will be published in the coming weeks. The 2021 survey of the UK’s fishing fleet will get underway in July. Seafish researchers will be able to visit ports and harbours this year, where restrictions allow and following health and safety protocols. Vessel owners willing to participate should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, email and/or phone number and port of operation.