Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 11:25 UK

Warning over rising fish prices

Trawler at sea
Rising fuel costs could keep fishermen in harbour

The price of fish landed in the UK could rise by an average of 23% in the next 12 to 18 months because of rising fuel prices, a government agency warns.

Seafish says the cost of some types of fish could go up by as much as 50%.

It blames the cost of diesel used to power fishing vessels, which it says has gone up from 31p per litre to 60p since 2007, with more rises expected.

It adds that the UK's fishing fleet could decline as high fuel costs mean it becomes too costly to go to sea.

The cost of diesel has gone up because of rising oil prices, which are up by about 40% this year.

Price rises 'inevitable'

These have been caused by soaring demand from emerging economies, exacerbated by supply fears and speculation on the world markets.

Seafish says the impact of fuel price rises will vary between different types of fishing vessel and the type of gear they use to catch fish.

It says there are measures fishermen can take to lessen the impact but that fuel price increases "further beyond anything we've seen before" meant some price rises were "inevitable".

Seafish development director Jon Harman said: "We are now seeing a complete change in the cost of bringing the catch to market.

"There's a lot we can do to try to mitigate cost increases, including looking at different fishing methods and improvements to gear technology.

"Nonetheless consumers must be prepared for significant increases in the cost of seafood if we are to continue to have a viable catching, processing and distribution sector in the UK."

Seafish said measures being taken by fishermen included greater use of static equipment, which does not have to be towed through the water - such as gillnets and long lines, and less trawling.

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