The information you provide in the annual fleet survey makes a vital contribution to the data that Seafish produces to support the fleet, explains Seafish economic analyst Marta Moran-Quintana.

If I tell you that our ‘2020 Economics of the Fleet’ report and dataset are out now, you might reasonably ask: so what?

It’s a unique piece of information, actually! The dataset is the only official source of data on the financial costs of running a fishing business in the UK. And all the information it shows comes from people like you: from the landings data you supply to the MMO, to the financial accounts hundreds of you share with us every year. All we do is process, combine and repackage it in a new format.

What this means is that any time you see the words ‘we conducted an economic assessment of the impacts of X, Y or Z measure on fishing businesses in the area’, there is a very high chance that that assessment is based on our data. From government consultations on new or existing regulations to producer organisation enquiries, our data is freely available to anyone who needs information on the financial side of fishing. Through our datasets, the numbers you give us reach fisheries managers and representatives all over the country.

Take the Northern Irish prawn fleet, for example. Years of low prices had left many vessels on the cusp of financial crisis. Many left the fishery in search of more profitable ventures. When the Northern Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (NIFPO) asked for our help, we developed a Northern Ireland Prawn Price model using the data we collect during our surveys.

Armed with the findings of that model, NIFPO was able to show buyers how low prices were hurting the prospects of the fleet and crew. Most importantly, the data helped them negotiate a price increase.

Stories like that are why our annual fleet survey is such a big element of the work we do in Seafish’s Economics team. Without it, everything else we do would be incomplete. And that is also why it’s so important that we survey as many vessels as possible. It’s not the same to run an under-10m lobster potter in St Ives as it is to run a 26m demersal trawler in Peterhead, and that needs to show in the data.

If – despite Covid – you had a good year, we would like to hear from you. If 2020 was terrible, we would also like to hear from you. We understand it’s not pleasant to share private financial details of your business with a stranger, but everything you share is confidential – and we wouldn’t ask if we didn’t believe there was something in it for you.

The more people who share their numbers with us, good or bad, the better our data will show what is truly going on in your sector of the UK fishing fleet.

Marta Moran-Quintana is an economic analyst with Seafish. The 2021 fleet survey is taking place now, with Seafish’s fleet researchers visiting ports and harbours. If you are happy to take part, please email: fleet. survey@seafish.co.uk with your name, email and/or phone number and port of operation.

You can access the ‘2020 Economics of the Fleet’ report and find out more here.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.

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