BIM National Seafood Survey 2023

The annual National Seafood Survey 2023 conducted by BIM provides an insight into the state of the Irish fishing industry post-Brexit

Irish Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority 2023

The annual National Seafood Survey (NSS) 2023, conducted by the Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) provides an insight into the state of Ireland’s vital catching sector post-Brexit


All round results

This survey meticulously examines the economic performance of the fishing fleet and the demographic makeup of those employed within the industry. The recently released report offers a deep analysis of both the financial and operational aspects of the Irish fishing fleet, elucidating key insights and notable trends. By scrutinizing economic data for the year 2021, this report unravels the forces that may underlie these trends, offering valuable insights into the industry’s dynamics.

Economic Estimates at Macro and Micro Levels

The report is structured to present economic estimates at both the macro national level and the micro fleet segment level. Following this, it provides an overview of key drivers that have influenced the economic performance of the Irish fleet between 2021 and 2023, based on industry feedback. These factors include changes in quotas due to Brexit, inflation, rising operational costs, and recent developments in Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The report also offers projections of economic performance for the years 2022 and 2023 in the subsequent section.

As part of the NSS, all active vessels are required to submit economic and operational details for their preceding year’s activity.

BIM National Seafood Survey 2023

Image: BIM NSS 2023

BIM National Seafood Survey 2023

Image: BIM NSS 2023

Key Findings for 2021:

– The profitability of the Irish fleet saw a decrease since 2020. Revenue declined by -3%, totaling €313 million; Gross Value Added (GVA) was €177 million (-15%); gross profit stood at €87 million (-36%); and net profit decreased to €63 million (-39%). Quota changes resulting from Brexit and escalating operating costs in 2021 contributed to these declines.

– The national fleet’s capacity has remained stable since 2008, with 1,963 registered vessels (excluding those registered in the aquaculture segment) in 2021. Approximately 81% of inactive vessels (612 in total) were in the less than 10-meter segments. By September 2023, 39 vessels from the Large-Scale Fisheries (LSF) fleet had indicated that they would be decommissioned by the year’s end under a voluntary permanent cessation scheme. The aim of this scheme is to restore a balance between fleet capacity and available quotas to ensure the fleet’s future profitability post-Brexit.

– An estimated 1,351 Irish fishing vessels were active in 2021 (up 7% from 2020), with a total capacity of 63,652 Gross Tonnage (GT) and 184,473 kilowatts (kW). Around 81% of these vessels were under 12 meters in length and primarily operated in inshore waters.

– The Irish fishing fleet spent 52,763 days at sea in 2021, of which 80% were dedicated to fishing. This marked a decrease in effort of 22% and 25%, respectively, compared to 2020.

– Energy consumption reduced by 29% during the same period, mirroring the decrease in effort.

– In 2021, the fleet landed over 207,400 tonnes, valued at €294 million. This indicated a 5% decrease in live weight compared to 2020 but an 11% increase in landed value. However, in 2022, the fleet saw a significant drop in landings, with 175,000 tonnes (a 17% decrease from 2021).

– Operating costs surged by 21% to €226 million in 2021, with legal fees and other expenses contributing 16% (€41 million) to total costs and energy costs accounting for 13% (€35 million). Despite a reduction in effort, personnel costs rose by 18% to €86.8 million in 2021 due to eased Covid-19 restrictions, particularly in the latter half of the year, and a consistent trend of increasing average wages per Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) from 2013 to 2021.

– In 2021, the sector generated an estimated 2,776 jobs directly, equivalent to 1,911 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs). These figures have followed a similar trend to capacity indicators over the past decade.

– The average annual crew wage for the entire fleet was approximately €31,287 per job and €47,353 per FTE. However, these figures varied depending on vessel size, crew employment methods (such as shared remuneration systems or PAYE employees), and the type of fishery in which the vessel operated.

– Based on feedback from the industry, increased prices for certain species, quota changes due to Brexit, inflation, and rising fuel costs were identified as the primary driving forces influencing the economic performance of the Irish fleet from 2021 to June 2023.

– Preliminary data for 2022 indicates an overall decline in revenue and profitability primarily driven by factors like the Ukrainian war, increasing energy costs, inflation, and quota reductions related to Brexit. There was a 17% reduction in live weight of landings from 2021 to 2022 and a 20% decrease in value. Projections for 2022 anticipate further unfavorable outcomes, including a 19% reduction in revenue (€257.7 million) and a 38% decrease in GVA (€120 million), along with a significant decline in gross profit (-42%) to €45 million and net profit (-42%) to €40.7 million.

– Forecasts for 2023 suggest an overall improvement in economic performance compared to 2022, driven by a slight increase in landing weight combined with an increase in the value of landings.

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