Europe’s Fishing Industry – Does It Pay Its Way?

The 2013 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet. You can read the report here. A very good summary is provided here

This annual report represents a snap shot of the economic performance of Europe’s fishing fleet in 2011.

I have found this report very helpful. It is the best assessment of the economic viability of the fleet. It has for years pointed out that for many countries in Europe, the best  value for money proposition for many countries, is to close the industry. It costs a lot more than in brings in.

I thought this a strange idea.  But, many officials in governments are very open and admit the industry costs a lot more to keep going, with subsidies and not passing on full costs, than simply closing it down.

I thought this strange as I thought private business should make a profit in the short, medium and long term. If they don’t it is time to re-allocate the skills and capital somewhere else. These ideas are apostate to many on all sides of the fisheries debte in Europe.

So, it was great to see STECF note that a lot more of Europe’s fishing industry are making fair to good profits.


Key Stats

  • The number of fishers employed in the EU fishing fleet in 2011 was 127,686
  • In 2012 the total number of vessels in the EU fishing fleet was 82,047, with a combined gross tonnage (GT) of 1.69 million tonnes and total engine power of 6.36 million kilowatts (kW)
  • The overall capacity of the EU fleet decreased between 2008 and 2012 (vessels: ‐7%, GT: ‐12% and kW: ‐9%)
  • Gross & net profits rose ), €1.29 billion (a 7% increase from 2010) and €410 million (an increase of 22% from 2010)
  • Total Income €7.134 billion v Total Costs €6.7 billion

Who Can Catch the Most?


Whose Getting the Most Value Out of the Catch



Which Part of the Fleet Is Catching the Most



Mixed Picture on Fleet Profitability



Small Is Beautiful

The industrial and distant water fleets have net profits of around 6% and the small -scale fleet have a net profit rate of 8%.


Caveat – Is this Really A Viable Business?

 There is a challenge in performing a real audit of fisheries. The books don’t list some of the off the books costs.  The fishing industry and government work hard to keep those costs out of the public domain.

If you wanted to buy this as a business you would need to know the indirect and direct income streams from subsidies (which are not included).  You’d want to have a good idea of the costs in real terms of fishing access (often given away for free). Unlike other fishing nations, such as Norway, the costs of the control and enforcement regime, which are often very high, are not usually born by the industry.

So, whilst the move to greater net profitability is a positive trend, if full cost costing were performed, it would still likely show that Europe’s fishing industry is still making a loss, and for many countries it would be cheaper to have no industry at all, than an industry that makes a net drain on the economy.

For a true picture of the economic health of the industry,  governments will need to lift the veil of secrecy on who gets subsidies, the value of fishing access grants, and the data behind this report.








Give Me Your €

Today, I thought Alain Cadec MEP had made a damascus like conversion, and like his rabble rousing  speeches had left the EPP and joined the radical left group.

What could could have brought this about. His email to the whole EP entitled:

“Save the fish, Promote sustainable fisheries, Support the Cadec report on the EMFF!”



Save the fish, Promote sustainable fisheries, Support the Cadec report on the EMFF!


The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) lays down a 6.3 billion euros budget for the new common fisheries policy (CFP).


On October 23rd the Cadec report on EMFF will be put to the vote in plenary. Support the Cadec report and vote in favour of sustainable fishing and against overfishing!


Article 32b is the ONLY measure reducing the capacity of the fleet in the whole package of the CFP reform. Vessels wanting to benefit from financial support under this article will have to reduce their capacity, fishing effort and energy consumption by 40%. This measure concerns 20,000 vessels, which represents a reduction of the fleet capacity of more than 1.2 million kilowatt.


Voting in favour of the Cadec report is strengthening the CFP reform to guarantee the recovery of fish stocks and promote sustainable fishing and aquaculture:

  • More support for data collection and control measures
  • Implementation of conservation measures, such as biological recovery periods
  • Investments in more selective fishing gears to eliminate discards
  • Freezing subsidies for Member States which do not reduce their fleet’s capacity or do not comply with control and data collection obligations
  • Start-up support for young fishermen involved in sustainable fishing
  • Ambitious social measures: professional training, safety on board, enforcement of social legislations related to fishermen working and living conditions


On October 23rd, Save the fish, Promote sustainable fisheries, Support the Cadec report!









Préservez les stocks de poissons, exigez une pêche durable, soutenez le rapport Cadec sur le FEAMP!


Le Fonds européen des affaires maritimes et de la pêche (FEAMP) met en place un budget de 6,3 milliards d’euros pour la nouvelle politique commune de la pêche (PCP).


Le 23 octobre, le rapport Cadec sur le FEAMP sera voté en plénière. Soutenez le rapport Cadec et votez pour une pêche durable et contre la surpêche!


L’article 32b est la SEULE mesure de réduction de la capacité de la flotte dans toute la réforme de la PCP. Les navires qui voudront bénéficier d’un soutien financier sous cet article devront réduire de 40% leur capacité, leur effort de pêche et leur consommation d’énergie. Cette mesure concerne 20 000 navires, ce qui signifie une réduction de la capacité de la flotte de plus de 1,2 million de kilowatts.


Voter pour le rapport Cadec c’est renforcer la réforme de la PCP pour garantir la reconstitution des stocks de poissons et promouvoir une pêche et une aquaculture durables :

  • Davantage de soutien pour la collecte des données et les mesures de contrôle
  • Mise en place de mesures de conservation, comme par exemple des périodes de repos biologique
  • Investissements dans des engins de pêche plus sélectifs pour éliminer les rejets
  • Gel des subventions pour les États membres qui ne réduisent pas la capacité de leur flotte ou qui ne respectent pas leurs obligations en matière de contrôle et de collecte des données
  • Aide à l’installation pour les jeunes pêcheurs engagés dans une pêche durable
  • Un volet social ambitieux : formation professionnelle, sécurité à bord, respect des législations sociales portant sur les conditions de travail et de vie des pêcheurs


Le 23 octobre, préservez les stocks de poissons, exigez une pêche durable, soutenez le rapport Cadec!



Ah, the sense of irony I thought had bypassed France, is alive and well !