Reduced landings, increased running costs and lower than expected prices have had a severe impact on the profitability of the UK fishing fleet, according to a report published by the Sea Fish Industry Authority. The 2001 Economic Survey of the UK Fishing Fleet collated information from 448 vessels covering 25 sectors making it the most comprehensive survey of its type. The report finds that between 1998 and 2001 vessel earnings have fallen by an estimated 25%, crew earnings or share' has fallen by an estimated 29%, and net profit (excluding interest payments and depreciation) has fallen 75%, with the hardest hit areas the south west and English Channel Beam trawlers, and sectors targeting the main whitefish species in the North Sea, Irish Sea and west of Scotland. Seafish fisheries cconomist Jim Watson said: "The structure of the UK fishing industry has changed dramatically over the last 10 years with a significant drop in the number of vessels and many fishermen leaving the industry. The report confirms the large reduction in earnings across all sectors of the fleet, excluding pelagic vessels. "Tight margins and high level of industry debt across many sectors have resulted in large reductions in crew share, cutbacks on non-essential repairs and maintenance, and very little investment in new builds across the industry in recent years." Fishermen have been hopeful that their fortunes might improve following decommissioning and stock recovery measures. Ian Duncan, Scottish Fishermen's Federation executive cecretary said: "Seafish's report highlights the need for proper analysis of the impact of current stock recovery measures before further controls are put in place." {{MEAT }}