Find Fisheries expertise in United Kingdom

The UK has an extensive shelf area of approximately 486,000 km2 and fisheries together with forestry and agriculture contribute 1% to the UK’s GDP (2008). The fisheries industry (around 6000 vessels) landed 588,000 tons of fish and shellfish in 2008, worth about US$1 billion, and directly employed over 12,000 people the vast majority (79%) of whom are full-time fishermen. While 75% of the UK demand is met through imports, about 50% of catch is exported.

The catch profile is dominated by demersal fish (38% in terms of quantity and 48% in terms of value). Pelagic species accounted for 34% of landings by quantity and 11% by value, while shellfish account for 28% by quantity and 39% value. Scottish vessels accounted for about two thirds of total catch and three fifths of the value, while English fleets accounted for 30% of the quantity and 34% of the total value of catch. The catch profile in terms of the most valuable species includes in order of value, nephrops, mackerel, cod and haddock. The northern sea is the most important fishing ground accounting for 28% of the UK’s catch. UK’s inland fisheries are used largely for recreational purposes and there is little inland exploitation. Nonetheless, eel is the most important inland fishery and is exported primarily to Europe and Asia.

Aquaculture is largely based in Scotland, creating about 2000 jobs in the primary sector, and about 8000 jobs in the secondary sector. The size of the UK’s fishing fleet has gradually declined in size since 2001, from about 7,721 in 2001 to 6,444 in 2011, a reduction of 17%. In 2011, UK vessels landed 600,000 tons of sea fish (including shellfish) into the UK and abroad with a value of £828 million. The catch included 35,000 tons of nephrops, an 8% increase since 1995. Landings of crabs have increased by 25% since 1995. The quantity of scallops landed was 55,000 tons, up 37,000 tonnes since 1995.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the EU’s instrument for managing fisheries and aquaculture. The current CFP, which aims for an economically viable fishing industry that minimizes impacts on marine ecosystems, has failed. The health of fish stocks and profitability of fishing businesses have deteriorated.

Fisheries organisations in United Kingdom
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
Fisheries Group Environment & Rural Affairs Department