New projects seek to boost Scottish seafood, reduce fleet’s greenhouse emissions

Two research projects aimed at helping Scotland’s seafood sector build business reputation, resilience, and new routes to market have been confirmed by the stakeholder group Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS).

The new projects, which follow research invitations issued in late 2020, are seeking to explore the digitalization of the Scottish fleet and to understand greenhouse gas emissions from fishing vessels. 

“These projects are designed and led by our industry, bringing heads together to create sustainable business opportunities in the new political and market contexts we’re facing together,” FIS Executive Director Kara Brydson said.

FIS will partner with consultancy MarFishEco (MFE) and Heriot-Watt University to explore specific emission issues from each fleet segment within Scotland’s fishing industry in order to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

FIS said that it hopes this piece of research will be an important contribution by the industry, especially with Glasgow hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). 

Experts from MFE and Heriot-Watt University will inform the development of a practical tool to measure and validate changes in carbon use at an individual vessel level, and inform national action to reduce fleet emissions – including identifying technological solutions, costs, and pathways to transition.

According to MarFishEco Chief Executive Andrew Johnson, such baselines are becoming increasingly important in terms of nationally determined contributions to reduce carbon emissions.

“Scotland has a large biomass of fish landed at its ports, making it an obvious place to begin such work and understand what the picture looks like. It will then be equally important to engage with policy and industry to find practicable solutions to mitigating carbon emissions as best possible without detrimental impact on the economic viability of different fisheries,” Johnson said. “We hope this work will provide an important baseline upon which to build so that Scotland can be ahead of the curve and place itself as a world leader both in terms of high-quality seafood but also in terms of industry initiatives to help curb the negative impacts of industrial activities.”

The second project recognizes the increasingly important role that technology is playing in many aspects of Scottish fisheries, and the need to accelerate this understanding to provide business and research intelligence to fishers, scientists, and managers.

FIS will also work with software company Verifact to audit the Scottish fishing fleet’s current and future digital capabilities, and look for opportunities learned within other sectors to support FIS in identifying practical, innovative projects.

Verifact CEO Frank Fleming explained that the initiative will explore how digitalization can add value to catches and build efficiencies in supply chains while contributing to scientific data collection and sustainable practices.

“FIS are forward-thinking by looking at this project. Other food sectors are also investing in this area and it is important that the Scottish seafood sector maps out what it can do in the short and medium-term to inform its decision making in the coming years,” he said. 

Over the next five weeks, the organizations will be working on their respective projects, with support from FIS, its members and other experts. Once the initial desk-based research is complete, FIS members will decide on the next steps for practical innovation projects.

FIS is governed and funded by its board, which comprises Marine Scotland, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Seafish, and Youngs Seafood.  

Photo courtesy of Roman023_photography/Shutterstock


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