Fishing vessel owners and skippers are being encouraged to take part in the annual survey of the UK fishing fleet, which begins on Monday, 5 July and will run throughout the summer. The survey is carried out by Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry.

The annual socio-economic survey asks questions about the financial performance of fishing businesses and the demographics of their crew. It gives owners and skippers the chance to share how their business has fared in the past 12 months through changes such as the pandemic and Brexit. All responses are treated as confidential, with no figures from individual vessels revealed.  

The Covid-19 pandemic meant that last year’s survey had to take place by post and online. However, the easing of restrictions means that this year researchers will be able to visit ports and harbours over the summer. 

Field researchers Juan Carlos Paredes Esclapez, Oscar Wilkie and Joe Cooper are all returning to work on the survey for a third year. They will follow local guidance and health and safety protocols as they meet vessel owners and skippers. 

Commenting on the launch of the 2021 fleet survey, Seafish economic analyst Marta Moran-Quintana said: “We’re delighted that our fleet researchers will be able to meet owners and skippers face to face again. Normally about 70% of the fishermen we meet in ports agree to complete the survey. We hope that owners and skippers will again be willing to spare some time to chat with Carlos, Oscar and Joe about their businesses and crew. 

“The fleet survey provides data which is useful to the industry at all levels, from national federations seeking to influence government to individual owners making decisions for their business. It’s only by speaking with all types of fishing businesses that we can provide accurate, comprehensive and current data for the industry.” 

Industry figures from across the country have called on vessel owners to take part in the survey. Mike Park from SWFPA, Harry Wick from NIFPO and NUTFA’s Jerry Percy are among those who have spoken out in support of the survey. They have recorded short video messages which highlight reasons for fishing businesses to take part. These will be shared from Seafish’s social media channels in the coming weeks. 

Individual fishing businesses who take part can opt to receive a free benchmark report. This compares their vessel’s economic performance to similar vessels, which can help identify areas where improvements can be made. They can also be used as evidence in grant or loan applications. Vessel owners who requested a benchmark report after taking part in last year’s survey should receive it next few weeks. 

Seafish’s ‘Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet’ report for 2020 will be published later in the year. The full economic performance dataset has already been released, and Seafish’s Fleet Enquiry Tool has been updated. The data shows that the total operating profit of the fleet last year fell by almost a fifth (from £264m in 2019 to £214m in 2020.) Turnover, which had been above the £1bn mark for the previous three years, fell to £843m. The results are based on last year’s survey results as well as preliminary landings data. 

Vessel owners and skippers who are willing to participate in the fleet survey are asked to email: with their name, email and/or phone number and port of operation. This will allow a meeting with a researcher to be arranged in port or by a telephone or video call. 

More information can be found here and in future issues of Fishing News.

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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