The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has published its annual UK Sea Fisheries Statistics 2021.
The publication is a summary of the UK fishing fleet, its activity at sea, Landings – how much fish they catch and land, Effort – how long they spend at sea, and Trade.
In 2021 there were 5,783 United Kingdom registered fishing vessels. This represents a 10 per cent reduction in the last ten years, however Gross Tonnage (GT) has remained the same at 202,000 tonnes. Approximately 20 per cent of the United Kingdom fleet is represented by vessels over 10 metres in length, of which 44 per cent are administered in Scotland. There are around 11,000 fishers working on United Kingdom registered vessels. This is a reduction of 1,700 fishers in the last ten years.
The statistics show that Northern Irish fleet has the highest portion of fishing boats over 10 metres in length, while Scotland have a higher portion of larger, more powerful vessels in comparison to the English fleet. Despite having a similar number of vessels, the Northern Irish fleet has more capacity and power than the Welsh and islands fleet.
In 2021, United Kingdom vessels landed 652,000 tonnes of sea fish with a value of £921 million. Compared to 2020, this is an increase of 5 per cent and 11 per cent in quantity and value respectively. This is mainly driven by the United Kingdom’s recovery from the COVID period and additional quota available to the United Kingdom fleet after leaving the EU.
Landings into the United Kingdom by foreign vessels in 2021 was 20,000 tonnes, which compared to 2020 represents a 48 per cent reduction, however landings abroad by United Kingdom vessels has increased by 5 per cent to 258,000 tonnes.
The United Kingdom is a net importer of fish. The United Kingdom’s crude trade gap in 2021 for sea fish is 305 thousand tonnes. This is higher than 2020 where the gap was 250,000 tonnes. In 2021 the United Kingdom imported 655,000 tonnes of sea fish, with a value of £3.1 billion. It exported 350 thousand tonnes, with a value of £1.6 billion.