Seafish researchers are once again heading to ports and harbours around the UK, with this year’s Fleet Survey launching on Monday, 15 July.

The survey aims to gather information about the financial performance of fishing businesses and the demographics of their crew, and gives vessel owners and skippers the opportunity to share details on how their business has fared in the last 12 months.

The interviews will take no longer than 15 minutes to complete, and all responses are confidential, with no figures from any individual vessel revealed elsewhere.

This year researchers will be handing out a free First Aid at Sea Guide for every skipper or vessel owner who participates.

Economics project manager at Seafish Juan Carlos Paredes Esclapez said: “Our Fleet Survey is an essential tool for monitoring the performance of our fishing industry. By taking part in this survey, vessel owners and skippers can help create an understanding of the challenges they face, as well as new opportunities.

“We encourage as many fishing businesses and vessel owners as possible to get involved in this year’s survey. The data collected is crucial for guiding policy- makers, industry stakeholders and businesses, ensuring the sector is prepared to tackle future challenges effectively.”

Fishing businesses that take part in the Fleet Survey can request a free benchmark report which compares their vessel’s economic performance to similar vessels and can help identify areas for improvements. It can also be used as evidence in grant or loan applications.

The schedule of when researchers are visiting areas around the UK is available at:

To pre-arrange an appointment to take part, email: with your name, email and/or phone number and port of operation. A Seafish researcher will get in touch to arrange an in-person interview in port, or a call.

Alternatively, you can set up an interview on the spot when you see researchers in your port or harbour.

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

2023 survey results

Seafish’s Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet report for 2023 will be published later in the year, but initial findings show:

  • On business performance over the previous 12 months, 35% rated it above average or excellent, 41% rated it average and 24% rated it poor or below average
  • On the outlook for business over the next three to five years, 37% rated the prospects good or very good, while 46% were unsure and 17% rated them bad or very bad.

The most frequently mentioned factors relating to recent performance were abundance of catch (36% of respondents), operating costs (30%), prices achieved (25%) and access to labour (20%). Abundance and price of catch were seen as positive influences by most respondents, while operating costs and access to labour were seen as negative.

The 2023 survey included a specific question on access to skilled labour, including UK and foreign crew. Nearly half of respondents said that this issue did not apply to them as they were single-handed, but among the remaining 201 people interviewed, 71% rated their access to skilled labour as bad or very bad. One in 10 respondents said they had been negatively affected by changes to the transit visa regulations.

In general, 2023 findings suggest a slight improvement in vessel owners’ and skippers’ feelings about their business performance.

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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