An EU report indicates that the fishing industry’s profitability in 2017 has seen a marginal drop over the previous year – but has maintained an overall high economic performance.
The Annual Economic Reports on the EU Fishing Fleet, which provides an overview of the structure and economic performance of the fishing fleets of the 23 coastal EU Member States, shows a net profit for the EU fleet of €1.30 billion, compared to the €1.34 billion figure for 2016.
In 2017, the EU fleet’s gross value added (the contribution of the fishing sector to the economy through wages and gross profit) amounted to €4.5 billion, stable in comparison to the record-breaking 2016.
Analysis indicates that the fishing sector’s improved efficiency has resulted in a reduction in repair and maintenance costs, as well as other variable costs.
Despite a small increase in fuel costs, the average salaries in the sector increased in 2017, continuing a trend that started in 2012.
According to the reports finding’s, this continued strong performance is the result of higher average fish prices, continued low fuel prices, and the improved status of some important stocks. The trend is expected to continue into 2018 and 2019 despite some fluctuations in fuel prices.
The sustainable exploitation of fish stocks was identified as an important foundation for the strong performance. The report indicates that economic performance tends to stagnate where fleets depend on stocks that are still overfished or overexploited. While the entire EU fleet was profitable, the results varied by scale of operation and by fishing region.
This overall positive economic performance is also linked by the report’s authors to the increasing focus on sustainable fishing methods
‘This report on Europe’s fishing fleet shows that good results come with good practices. Over the course of my mandate, I have emphasised the fundamental importance of sustainable fishing. Europe’s fishers are seeing the benefits,’ commented European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella
As had been expected, the large-scale and the distant-water fleet segments registered higher economic performance than the small-scale coastal fleet segments. Furthermore, the fleet segments operating in the North Eastern Atlantic, with most stocks being fished at sustainable levels, registered higher economic performance than the fleet segments operating in the Mediterranean, which has a continued (albeit improving) problem of overfishing or overexploitation of a number of stocks.
The Annual Economic Reports on the EU Fishing Fleet is the result of combined work by economic experts from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee of Fisheries (STECF) and the European Commission.