UK retail fish prices may have to rise by as much as 50% for the fishing industry to remain profitable, Seafish has warned.

Depending on the type of vessel and equipment used, the cost of catching fish has risen by anything between 7% and 50%, the organisation said. Seafish's calculations are based upon sharp increases in fuel prices, which went from an average of 31p per litre in 2007, to 60p per litre in 2008. With fuel set to rise further, the situation was unlikely to improve, it added.

"Consumers must be prepared for significant rises in the cost of seafood," said Philip MacMullen, Seafish head of environment. "It's also likely that if current trends continue UK fishing efforts will decrease."

The increased cost of fuel meant fishermen were having to be more innovative with their use of resources, the industry body said. Measures already being implemented include greater use of static gear such as gillnets and longlines, more fuel-efficient engines and less trawling.

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