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New scientific report confirms positive economic trends for EU fishing fleet

29 September 2017, JRC

According to the latest Annual Economic Report, the overall economic performance of the EU fleet improved again in 2015.

While still marginally profitable in 2009, the EU fleet registered record-high net profits of EUR 798 million in 2015, and estimates for 2016 and 2017 point towards further profitability gains. However, the report also confirms that economic performance stagnates where fleets depend on stocks which are still subject to overfishing or overexploitation.

The EU fishing fleet registered record-high net profits of EUR 798 million in 2015. ©Fotolia, Bruno Barracuda

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, said: "It is encouraging to see that the positive trend of the last years has resulted in higher salaries for fishermen, bigger profits for the fishing sector and more value added for the EU's fishing and coastal communities. This clearly shows that our joint commitment towards more sustainable fishing pays off. But more efforts are needed to allow also small scale coastal fleets, in particular in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, to fully benefit from this positive trend. Continued progress towards Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) in all sea basins will therefore be a precondition for achieving economic viability. 

In 2015, the EU fleet's gross value added, i.e. the contribution of the fish catching sector to the economy through wages and gross profit, amounted to €3.9 billion. This represents a 16% increase compared to 2013. Average salaries in the EU fleet have also increased while average fuel consumption has decreased. Fuel use efficiency has improved, with fuel costs amounting to 15% of the total revenue in 2015, compared to 24% in 2008. This is largely because fleets tend to operate  more efficiently.

The overall improved economic situation of the fleet coincides with the increase in the number of fish stocks that are being fished sustainably, i.e. allowing the fishing industry to harvest the maximum amount of fish on a long term basis. An increasing number of fleets that exploit stocks sustainably see clear improvements in their profitability and salaries.

Despite this general upward trend, there are still a significant number of EU fleets that lag behind in terms of profitability, in particular small-scale costal fleets and fleets operating in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, where poor economic performance  is mainly due to the bad status and continued overexploitation of many stocks and to decreases in the first-sale prices for some species.

The 2017 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet is based on data provided by national authorities under the EU Data Collection Framework (DCF) and the result of combined work by economic experts from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee of Fisheries (STECF), the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE).

Links:

Annual Economic Report


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