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UK fishing fleet turnover reaches 'landmark' £1 billion

The increase was mainly due to a higher average price of shellfish species, while the sector also saw a higher value of landings in 2017.

New figures from UK trade body Seafish revealed the UK’s fishing fleet turnover reached £1 billion (€1.1 billion/$1.3 billion) for the first time in 2017.

The figures formed part of Seafish's ‘Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet 2017’ report which analyses the performance of the catching sector and is based on the most recent annual accounts available for fishing vessels.

The report also reveals that total fishing income for UK vessels increased from £946 million (€1.1 billion/$1.2 billion) in 2016 to £984 million (€1.1 billion/$1.3 billion) in 2017.

This increase was mainly due to a higher average price of shellfish species, while the sector also saw a higher value of landings in 2017.

The total number of active fishing vessels also increased from 4,637 in 2016 to 4,701 in 2017.

However, operating profit decreased slightly despite the higher value of landings, dropping to an estimated £254 million (€290 million/$330.4 million), a 4 percent decrease from 2016.

The decrease in operating profit was driven by an increase in fleet operating costs which was mainly due to a higher annual average fuel price in 2017. In nominal terms, the average price of fuel increased by 73 percent between January 2016 and December 2017 with total spend on fuel increasing by 26 percent.

Seafish also interviewed skippers and vessel owners from across the UK while compiling this report and interviewees reported a mixture of ambitions for the next few years.

They mentioned several factors when discussing business limitations citing uncertainty over the future political and trade landscape, abundance of fish, oil price, quota access and unpredictable weather patterns as key concerns.

"These are promising figures for the UK fishing fleet with turnover reaching a landmark £1 billion (€1.1 billion/$1.3 billion)," said Steve Lawrence, Economics Project Manager at Seafish.

"Although operating profit is down, mainly due to increased fuel prices, we have seen some really strong numbers particularly for those vessels catching shellfish species."

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