HomeNewsUK Fishing Industry Facts and Statistics

UK Fishing Industry Facts and Statistics


Last Updated on 06/12/2021 by TheDigitalHacker


The fishing industry of the UK was progressing quite successfully, but within the last few years, there has been a decline in the number of workers and overall landings by the fishermen. This can be due to many reasons such as the environmental problems that affect the breeding of the fishes, excessive fishing, the tough lifestyle of fishermen with the many risks involved, change of tastes and preferences of the consumers, etc. The following stats depict the same in terms of numbers.

Facts & Stats

  1. UK vessels land around 400,000 tonnes of fish each year in the UK, and between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes abroad.
  2. In 2019, the fishing and aquaculture industry contributed £446 million to the UK economy in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA, which is similar to GDP).
  3. The sector accounted for 3.44% of the broader agricultural, forestry, and fishing sector, and 0.02% of the UK’s total GVA across all sectors.
  4. In 2018, 61% of economic output from the fishing and aquaculture industry was generated in Scotland.
  5. The total number of fishers in the UK was around 12,000 in 2019, down from around 20,000 in the mid-1990s.
  6. In 2019, 45% of fishers were based in England, 40% in Scotland, 7% in Northern Ireland, and 7% in Wales.
  7. Landings by the UK fleet were down in 2019, around an 11% reduction in 2018.
  8. Reduced landings in pelagic fish account for much of this fall. The value of landings by the UK fleet has increased in recent years to just over £1 billion in 2018, although there was a small decrease in 2019 when landings were worth £987 million.
  9. The UK is a net importer of fish and related products, with net imports of around 358,000 tonnes in 2019, worth £1.7 billion.
  10. In 2019, the UK fleet had the second-largest total catch (in terms of landed weight) and the second-largest fleet size (in gross tonnage terms) compared with EU countries.
  11. There were 353 fish processing sites in the UK in 2018, operated by 337 companies.
  12. Fish processing sites accounted for 19,179 full-time equivalent jobs in 2018.
  13. The fish processing industry is focused on Humberside and Grampian. Combined these two areas accounted for 53% of full-time equivalent jobs in the sector.
  14. In 2020, there were 3,705 fishing businesses registered in the UK
  15. The fishing sector is characterized by a higher than average proportion of businesses with under 5 employees: 93% of businesses have fewer than 5 employees, compared to 78% in the UK economy as a whole
  16. The total number of fishers employed in the UK has fallen from just over 21,000 in 1970 to 12,043 in 2019
  17. Seafish reported that there were 8,012 full-time equivalents (FTE) jobs aboard UK fishing vessels in 2019, after accounting for hours worked.
  18. February 2021 saw an overall decrease in the number of landings (tonnes) compared to February 2019 and 2020, down 40 percent and 60 percent respectively.
  19. This is caused by relatively low landings by Scottish vessels in the pelagic sector.
  20. This led to a proportionate decrease in value landed (£000’s) in February 2021 compared to 2019 and 2020, down 44 percent and 54 percent respectively.
  21. Declining domestic demand as a result of government-imposed social distancing measures has led to a fall in prices for fish caught by industry operators, negatively affecting revenue in 2020-21.
  22. International trade in the industry has been significantly affected by the closure of some countries’ borders. This decline in trade is anticipated to constrain industry revenue in 2020-21.
  23. The uncertainty caused by the outbreak and the anticipated fall in real household disposable income is expected to cause a slowdown in the trend towards consuming more fish.
  24. Over the five years through 2020-21, industry revenue is expected to decline at a compound annual rate of 2.5%.
  25. Increasing health consciousness has resulted in the volume of fish consumed by households rising.
  26. Regulation reforms, which relaxed some policies of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), benefited operators by reducing wasteful practices
  27. Diversification in the types of fish eaten has further benefited the industry
  28. Market Size: £869m
  29. Number of Businesses: 6,049
  30. Industry Employment: 12,077
  31. The first barrier to growth is capacity. Some growth might be absorbed through the use of latent capacity, but fishing for some species will require new gear.
  32. The second barrier to growth is uncertainty. To grow the industry would need to invest in catch and processing capacity. The investment will require security (longer-term), so a lack of certainty in the short term will deter banks from investing in the industry.
  33. The third obstacle is labor shortages because the sector is quite dependent on overseas skilled crew.  More fishing will require more labor but this could be restricted due to migration rules.
  34. Over 2.5 million hours of bottom trawling plowed Europe’s ‘protected’ areas in 2020
  35. EU action needed against Norway and Faroe Islands overfishing Mackerel


The fishing industry is taking quite a hit for some years and some developments need to be done in order to help those supporting the industry. This involves large investments with high risks, which are due to uncontrollable natural forces. Certainly, consumers will move towards other sources of food if the state of this industry continues to decline with other significant changes.

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