UK Fishing Fleet Survey coming to Scotland

Fishing vessel owners and skippers are being encouraged to join the annual survey of the UK fishing fleet which started last week.

Fleet survey researchers will be visiting ports and harbours across the country until September 8. The annual survey of the fishing fleet is conducted by Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry.

The survey focuses on socio-economic questions to find out the financial performance of fishing businesses and the demographics of their crew. This gives vessel owners and skippers a platform to share how their businesses have fared in the last 12 months.

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During last year’s fleet survey, 531 fishing vessel owners responded to the survey. A full report with financial data will be published later in the summer but initial findings show:

​Fleet survey researchers will be visiting north-east ports.​Fleet survey researchers will be visiting north-east ports.
​Fleet survey researchers will be visiting north-east ports.

On business performance over the previous 12 months, 36% rated it poor or below average, 31% rated it average and 31% rated it above average or excellent

On the outlook for business over the next 3-5 years, 29% rated it bad or very bad compared to 35% who rated it good or very good.

The most mentioned factors related to recent performance were stock status, prices for catch and operating costs due to the high fuel prices of 2022.

Operating costs had never featured in the top five list of concerns in previous surveys, showing how exceptional the situation with high fuel prices last year was. Stock status and prices were mostly seen as positive influences and helped to ease the difficulties of the high fuel costs.

The insights gathered help paint a picture for policymakers of the challenges that the fleet faces in the current political and economic landscape. The survey takes no longer than 15 minutes to complete and all responses are strictly confidential, with no details from any individual vessel revealed. 

Fishing businesses taking part in the survey can also request a free benchmark report. This is a valuable tool for comparing the economic performance of their vessel to similar ones in the industry, allowing them to identify areas for potential improvement. These reports can also be used as evidence in grant or loan applications.

Juan Carlos Paredes Esclapez, Economics Project Manager at Seafish, said: "We are excited to launch the 2023 UK Fishing Fleet Survey, which plays a crucial role in tracking the performance of our fishing industry. By participating in this survey, vessel owners and skippers have the chance to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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“The data collected will be invaluable in informing policymakers, industry stakeholders, and businesses themselves, ensuring the sector is well-equipped to navigate future challenges. It helps Seafish to understand how issues such as fuel price increases are impacting the fishing fleet. This information can also inform policy changes that address those challenges to benefit the sector as a whole”

Field researchers this year will be Jim Bruce, Phoebe Kelly, Felicity Spoors and Emma Farnsworth.