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Survey of Fishing Fleet Underway

Fishing vessel owners and skippers in Scotland are encouraged to join the annual survey of the UK fishing fleet.

Fleet survey researchers will be visiting ports and harbours across the Scotland this summer, from 10 of July until 8 September.

The annual survey of the fishing fleet is conducted by Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry. The survey focuses on socio-economic questions to find out the financial performance of fishing businesses and the demographics of their crew. This gives vessel owners and skippers a platform to share how their businesses have fared in the last 12 months.  

During last year’s fleet survey, 531 fishing vessel owners responded to the survey. A full report with financial data will be published later in the summer but initial findings show: 

  • On business performance over the previous 12 months, 36% rated it poor or below average, 31% rated it average and 31% rated it above average or excellent 
  • On the outlook for business over the next 3-5 years, 29% rated it bad or very bad compared to 35% who rated it good or very good.  

The most mentioned factors related to recent performance were:

  • stock status
  • prices for catch
  • operating costs due to the high fuel prices of 2022.

Operating costs had never featured in the top five list of concerns in previous surveys, showing how exceptional the situation with high fuel prices last year was. Stock status and prices were mostly seen as positive influences and helped to ease the difficulties of the high fuel costs. 

fishing buoys and nets and lobster creels on the shore
image credit Bell

The insights gathered help paint a picture for policymakers of the challenges that the fleet faces in the current political and economic landscape. The survey 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 is a valuable tool for comparing the economic performance of their vessel to similar ones in the industry, allowing them to identify areas for potential improvement. These reports can also be used as evidence in grant or loan applications. 

Juan Carlos Paredes Esclapez, Economics Project Manager at Seafish, 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 policymakers, 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” 

the five Seafish researchers

Field researchers this year will be Jim Bruce, Phoebe Kelly, Felicity Spoors and Emma Farnsworth. Familiar faces will also be in the mix, such as Rebecca Spain and Sheriene Murphy, returning to do the fleet survey for a second year. The survey will be held in Scotland on the following dates: 

  • July 10-14 in Aberdeen and Angus with Carlos.
  • July 17-24 in West Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire with Phoebe and also in North Aberdeen and Moray with Sheriene.
  • July 31 – August 4 in South East Aberdeen and Angus with Phoebe plus Isle of Skye (provisional) with Carlos.
  • August 7-11 in North Aberdeen and Moray with Phoebe and in Fife with Emma.
  • August 14-18 in Shetland with Jim, Orkney with Felicity, Outer Hebrides (South) with Sheriene and Outer Hebrides (North) with Becca.
  • August 21-25 in North East Highland with Felicity and North Cumbria and East Dumfries and Galloway with Emma.
  • August 28 – September 1 in South Argyll and Bute and Isles of Jura and Islay with Jim, South West Highland with Phoebe, Lothian and Borders with Felicity and North West Highland with Emma.
  • September 4-8 in Argyll and Bute with Jim, North Argyll and Bute and Isle of Mull with Phoebe andMidWest Highland with Emma.

Further information is available on the Seafish website: www.seafish.org/fleet-survey

How to get involved: Seafish encourages all vessel owners and skippers to participate in the survey, as their input is instrumental in guiding policies and supporting the long-term success of the fishing sector. The schedule of when researchers are visiting areas across the UK is available on the Seafish website at www.seafish.org/fleetsurvey.

Vessel owners can look out for researchers in ports and harbours across the summer.  Those who want to pre-arrange an appointment to take part in the survey can email fleet.survey@seafish.co.uk including the following information: 

  • Name  
  • Email and/or phone number  
  • Port of operation 

Seafish researchers will get in touch to arrange an in-person interview in port or a call. If you have questions about the survey or enquiries about how industry estimates could be used to support your business, please contact the Fleet Survey team on fleet.survey@seafish.co.uk or 07966 764150. 

Further information is available on the Seafish website: www.seafish.org/fleet-survey

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