Size of Market

The Seafood Industry feeds the world, everyday.


Fish - Wild catches are due to stagnate in tonnage, while aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sources of meat protein production on the planet.


  • In 2016, 171 million tonnes of fish was either caught (wild) or produced (aquaculture) with a ‘first sale’ value of $362Bn.

  • Of the 171 million, 90.9 million tonnes of fish was wild caught of which 80% was used for human consumption. 

  • An additional 81 million tonnes of fish was produced through aquaculture and has now overtaken wild fisheries as the primary production method for human-consumed seafood.

  • Long term projects suggest wild catches will remain stagnant at 0.3% growth between 2016 and 2030, while aquaculture will increase by 36.8% during the same period.

  • There are 3,600 fishing ports across the world.

Fishermen - While the number of fishermen is decreasing, it is a primary industry in many economies, with China and Africa maintaining the largest fleet.


  • 59.6 million people are employed in the primary sector of wild catches and aquaculture in 2016 [FAO]

  • Asia represents the largest number of fishermen and fishing vessels, with as many as 40% being non-motorised.

Consumption - 20% of the world’s meat protein comes from seafood.


  • Retail value of seafood consumption is estimated to be worth more than $500Bn, worldwide.

  • Between 1961 and 2016, the average annual increase in global food fish consumption (3.2%) outpaced population growth (1.6%) and exceeded that of meat from all terrestrial animals combined (2.8%).

For further information on the global fishing industry, please see the 2018 FAO report on ‘The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture’

How big is the market in the UK?


Fish - Landings growing in value due to heightened demand for British fish and shellfish.


  • £984M of fish supply within the UK in 2017 (+£38M vs 2016) catching 719,000 tonnes of fish (+3% vs 2016) into 22 fishing ports.

  • The UK is currently the 23rd largest fish producer in the world.

  • The UK currently exports 80% of the fish that is landed.


Fishermen - Considerable proportion of fishing vessels employed by small scale boats who are declining within the industry due to low prices and operational costs.


  • 11,692 fishermen

  • 3,100 active fishing vessels

  • 74% of vessels are under-10m, 

  • Average operating profit of vessels declined 4% in 2017, with an average profit margin of 19%. 


Consumption - Demand continues to grow year on year, driven by consumer trends for health and sustainability.


  • UK consumer market is worth £6.4bn (based on retail value), growing 3.1% with the main area of growth in chilled-fresh fish, and 14% in restaurant channel [Seafish]

  • Consumer demand driven by a combination of diet trends, consideration of sustainability and accessibility.

  • 80% of consumed seafood is imported and largely farmed.


For further detail on the UK fish supply, please see the Seafish industry research report as well as the value chain presentation. For further detail on the UK seafood demand, please see the Seafish market report. For login details to Seafish’s industry data, please use, user: MarketData and password: CrabCakes!!