Less fish landed but higher market prices helped the EU fishing fleet stay profitable in 2011. Indeed, the economic performance of the EU fleet has improved gradually over recent years, from a net profit margin of 1% in 2008 to 6% in 2011. These are some of the main findings of the 2013 Annual Economic Report (AER) on the European Fishing Fleet, produced by the JRC and independent experts.
The latest data from EU Member States indicates that the EU fleet landed less in quantity but generated a higher first-sale value in 2011, mainly thanks to higher average prices for many commercially important species. While costs incurred by the fleet increased in 2011, income also increased proportionally. Subsequently, the fleet’s economic performance showed improvements since 2010, with 6% of income retained as net profit.
Remarkably, this growth occurred despite rising fuel prices. Fuel costs together with labour costs are the major outlays for the EU fleet, which saw the average price of fuel increase by almost 30% compared to 2010. However, the amount of fuel consumed by the EU fleet decreased 6% in 2011, possibly in an attempt to counterbalance the increased costs, coupled with changing fishing behaviour and investment in more fuel efficient technologies.
While overall the EU fleet was profitable in 2011, the economic performance by Member State and fleet segment revealed mixed outcomes. Six national fleets and around 45% of the fleet segments made net losses. Profit margins in the EU fishing fleets are in general low, and factors such as severe weather conditions, market saturation for some species or the effects of the global economic crisis may have affected the poor economic performances. For several fleets the total operating costs (including capital costs) were higher than the total income, but on average they accounted for 94% of total income in 2011. This is an improvement compared to the situation in the three previous years: 2008 (99%), 2009 (96%) and 2010 (95%). Innovation projects and recovery of some stocks are some of the factors that might have led to a better economic performance.
Reports on the Economic performance of the European Fishing Fleet (AER) are prepared annually by the JRC and independent experts convened under the auspices of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). The AER 2013 is accompanied by a summary report, prepared in cooperation with the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.