Commenting on the report, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella stated that: “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”.
In 2017, the EU fleet registered a net profit of EUR 1.30 billion, only slightly lower than the record EUR 1.34 million registered in 2016. The continued strong performance was the result of higher average fish prices, continued low fuel prices, and the improved status of some important stocks. This 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.
As 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, where most stocks being fished at sustainable levels, registered higher economic performance than the fleet segments operating in the Mediterranean, which has a continued (although improving) problem of overfishing or overexploitation of a number of stocks.
In 2017, the EU fleet’s gross value added (i.e. the contribution of the fishing sector to the economy through wages and gross profit) amounted to EUR 4.5 billion, stable in comparison to the record-breaking 2016. The improved efficiency of the fleet has resulted in a decrease in repair and maintenance costs, as well as other variable costs. Despite a small increase in energy costs (fuel), the average salaries in the sector increased in 2017, continuing a trend that started in 2012.
The Annual Economic Reports on the EU Fishing Fleet provide an overview of the structure and economic performance of the 23 coastal EU Member State fishing fleets. It is the result of combined work by economic experts from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee of Fisheries (STECF) and the European Commission.