Seafish’s Economics, Insight and Advice team has released the 2022 edition of Economics of the Fleet. This report provides economic estimates for the performance of the UK fishing fleet. The estimates are calculated based on samples of fishing costs and earnings gathered by Seafish as part of our Annual Fleet Survey.

Findings from this report confirm that 2022 was another challenging year for the fishing fleet. While economic recovery post-pandemic was reflected in higher prices, the increasing operating costs for the fishermen damaged net profits overall.

Performance of the UK fishing fleet in 2022

The fleet began to recover from the economic shock of Covid-19 in 2021 with higher levels of fishing activity and higher prices once markets reopened and demand began to grow. Total fishing income and operating profit increased this year compared to 2020.

The key economic development that impacted the fleet performance in 2022 was fuel price. The increase in oil prices following the Ukraine war saw the average price of marine fuel in the UK reach £1 per litre, a record high. The fleet’s total expenditure on fuel in 2022 reached £195 million, a 75% increase from 2021 and the highest figure since Seafish began reporting on the financial performance of the fleet.


Total operating costs and profit of the fishing fleet in the last few years


The impacts of high fuel prices were partially offset by higher average prices for the catch. Total fishing income of the fleet in 2022 was nearly £1 billion, 11% higher than in 2021. Higher average prices were driven by key species for the UK fleet such as Nephrops, cod and brown crab.

However, total operating costs increased by 19%, and higher fish prices could not completely compensate for the high fuel bill. The forecasted total operating profit of the fleet was £222 million in 2022, a 13% decrease from 2021 figures.

You can read the full report, ‘Economics of the Fishing Fleet 2022’, here.

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