EU fishing fleet's profits decrease but remain positive despite COVID-19

COVID-19 severely affected the EU fishing fleets but their average profits are predicted to have remained positive in 2020, according to the JRC’s Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet 2020.

The EU report projects resilience of fishing fleet during COVID-19 pandemic ©Bernard GIRARDIN – Adobe

The 2020 Annual Economic Report (AER) on the EU fishing fleet provides a comprehensive overview of the structure and economic performance of EU Member State fishing fleets.


The 2020 report is focused on year 2018 based on the data available via the EU data collection framework. The report also provides estimates for 2019 and 2020.


The analysis indicates that the EU fishing fleet was highly profitable in 2018, despite a 14% reduction since 2017.


The results remain at historically high levels, with an overall gross profit of EUR 1.8 billion. This represents significant progress, taking into account that the EU fleet was barely breaking even in 2009.   


The estimates indicate that the performance of the fleet rebounded in 2019, to then fall back to the 2018 levels in 2020, largely due to the COVID-19 outbreak.


The report indicates a 17% decrease in gross profits in 2020 compared to the 2019 estimates.


The decrease is in line with the overall contraction of the EU economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.


Nevertheless, the report predicts that the EU fleet as a whole continued to be profitable in 2020, with gross and net profit margins of 26% and 14%, respectively.


More sustainable fish stocks and low fuel prices have helped to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.


The full analysis and results, including Member State fleet summary reports, are published in the 2020 Annual Economic Report and its annexes.


The report is the result of combined work by economic experts from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee of Fisheries (STECF) and the European Commission.


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