FIS looks to satellite tech for new opportunities to elevate Scottish seafood

Published on
April 21, 2021

As part of its strategy to advance the sustainability and prosperity of Scottish fisheries, Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS) has commissioned Edinburgh, Scotland-based company Space Intelligence to conduct “blue sky” research into the potential benefits of utilizing satellite technology within the sector.

With Space Intelligence specializing in Earth observation and transforming satellite data into actionable information, the project will encompass a “pioneering review” of the role that satellite technology could play in supporting Scottish fisheries, FIS said, adding that this is the first time that a satellite technology company has supported the sector in this way.

FIS Executive Director Kara Brydson told SeafoodSource that with FIS’s belief that innovation can release untapped potential in the seafood industry, it wants to find out how space technology can provide invaluable business and research intelligence, not only to scientists and managers, but also to fishers.

“All FIS projects have industry knowledge built in from the very beginning, and our members are keen to understand how satellite data could support more informed, precise, and energy-efficient fisheries,” she said.

While Space Intelligence’s work looks to support nature-based solutions to climate change, Brydson said climate intelligence is one aspect of this new project – but that it’s not the focus.

It will consider what satellite technology has achieved for other sectors and what the possibilities might be for sustainable fisheries, she said.

“The report might point to a host of applications, from stock monitoring and safety at sea, to transparency and market benefits. We will clearly communicate potential benefits of new technologies to our colleagues across the supply chain,” Byrdson said. “While partnering with Space Intelligence is exciting, it’s certainly not for the sake of novelty – it’s essential to help build business reputation, resilience, and new routes to market.”

There is also the opportunity to work alongside all other marine users in Scotland to look at their interactions with fisheries and to ensure that well-informed decisions to support sustainable seafood businesses can be taken, Brydson said.

According to Space Intelligence CEO and Co-Founder Murray Collins, there are numerous ways in which satellites can drive transformational change in the fishing industry, from cutting-edge “agile space” – whereby satellites are launched to perform bespoke research for specific challenges – to communication satellites that can track vessels. Satellites can also perform land mapping, which has previously been used to map coral reefs in tropical waters, but which has potential applications in Scottish waters as well, according to Collins.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of May 2021.

FIS, a public-private collaboration between seafood experts, Scotland's government, and scientists, has commissioned a number of fishing sector projects, including supporting the technological improvement of vessels and quantifying the fleet’s carbon footprint.

“FIS connects the seafood supply chain around shared opportunities for innovation to add value to Scottish businesses and communities. Our three new projects – learning about space data, carbon impacts, and digital tools – are all designed and led by our industry, as are our ongoing projects looking at real-time reporting of catches and selective gear,” Brydson said.

Brydson said FIS’s new expert group is looking to improve fisheries data and management, and will help develop more practical innovation projects through 2021. 

Image courtesy of Fisheries Innovation Scotland

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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