Vessel owners and skippers encouraged to take part in annual survey of UK fishing fleet

Seafish fleet researchers will once again be visiting ports and harbours around the UK this summer, starting now and continuing through to September.

The annual Seafish Fleet Survey focuses on socio-economic questions to determine the financial performance of fishing businesses over the past 12 months and the demographics of their crew.

Left to right: new Seafish Fleet Survey researchers Jim Bruce, Phoebe Kelly and Felicity Spoors in Newhaven. Dates when the team will be in your area can be found on the Seafish website.

Five hundred and thirty-one vessel owners took part in last year’s survey. A full report with financial data will be published later in the summer, but initial findings show:

  • 36% rated their business performance over the previous 12 months ‘poor’ or ‘below average’, while 31% rated it ‘average’ and 31% rated it ‘above average’ or ‘excellent’
  • 29% rated the outlook for their business over the next three to five years ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ compared to 35% who rated it ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

The most frequently cited factors related to recent performance were stock status, prices achieved, and operating costs due to the high fuel prices of 2022.

Operating costs had never featured in the top five concerns in previous surveys, underlining how exceptional last year’s fuel price situation was. Stock status and prices were mostly seen as positive factors that helped to offset the high fuel costs.

The insights gathered by the survey are used to inform policy- makers of the challenges that the fleet faces. It 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 can be a valuable tool for comparing the economic performance of your vessel to similar ones in the industry, allowing you to identify areas for potential improvement.

These reports can also be used as evidence in grant or loan applications.

Seafish economics project manager and former fleet researcher Juan Carlos Paredes Esclapez 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.

“The data collected will be invaluable in informing policy- makers, 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.”

Jim Bruce, Phoebe Kelly, Felicity Spoors and Emma Farnsworth are new recruits to the Fleet Survey team this year, joining Rebecca Spain and Sheriene Murphy, who are returning to do the survey for a second year.

The schedule of when researchers will be visiting different areas across the UK is available on the Seafish website here.

To prearrange an appointment to take part, send your name, email and/or phone number and port of operation to: fleet.survey@

If you have questions about the survey or enquiries about how industry estimates could be used to support your business, contact the Fleet Survey team at: or on: 07966 764150.

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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