Research projects

Groundbreaking fisheries research projects get a financial boost

Projects to minimize the impact of lost fishing nets on the environment and innovative research into new trawl designs to reduce the number of other species incidentally caught by fishermen (bycatch) are among those that will receive funding from the UK Seafood Fund of £100 million, from the UK government announced today (Wednesday August 3).

The Fisheries Industry Science Partnerships (FISP) program – part of the £100 million UK Seafood Fund – brings together industry and researchers to carry out pioneering projects that promote the sustainable management of fisheries in the UK and help to equip the fishing industry for the future.

So far, over £4 million has been made available by the UK government to fund projects under this scheme. From today, a new funding round for FISP opens, with grants of up to £1m for two-year projects and new eligible funding areas, allowing a more wide variety of more ambitious projects to receive support. The UK Seafood Fund will also be extended from 2024 until March 31, 2025 to help longer-term projects succeed by giving them more time to use the investment.

In Shetland, one of the UK’s largest fishing communities which landed around £100m of fish in 2019, Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis today visited projects supported by the scheme and heard directly from local fishermen.

Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said:

Our world-class fisheries and seafood sectors are brimming with expertise and innovation, and the UK Seafood Fund makes sure these excellent programs have the financial backing they need to succeed.

We are already seeing tangible results – from LED lights in fishing nets to attract target species and deter bycatch to new whelk trap designs.

I want our fishing industry to thrive, be more sustainable and invest in the people who will make it successful for decades to come. I therefore encourage everyone to present their pioneering ideas.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said:

It’s fantastic to see four Scottish projects benefiting from nearly £270,000 of UK Government investment. This will not only cement the reputation of our fishing industry as one of the best in the world, but will also elevate its potential even further.

From research into maximizing cockle stocks by the University of Glasgow to monitoring Ling on Shetland with the University of the Highlands and Islands, there is so much hard work going on in Scotland to benefit the industry everywhere.

And that’s just the beginning. With the extension of the UK Seafood Fund to 2025, I want to encourage more Scottish innovators to pitch their projects for funding.

Following the initial launch of the FISP program in 2021, when approximately £1.4m was allocated, a number of innovative projects are already underway and making significant progress.

For example, SafetyNet Technologies is exploring a new type of fishing net that uses LED lights as an effective tool to deter unwanted fish and prevent bycatch. The FISP funding was used to hold workshops with Aberdeen-based scientists and to carry out sampling trips ahead of the start of commercial trials on the lobster and squid fishing vessels this month.

The successful FISP Round 2 bidders, announced today, include:

  • CEFAS will work with a group of skippers from the Farn Deeps Nephrops trawl fishery off the northeast coast of England to test selective trawls, chosen from designs that have demonstrated their potential to reduce unwanted catches in limited scientific testing.
  • The Holderness Fishing Industry Group is partnering with the University of Hull to help identify practices to reduce the impact of lost shell fishing gear (LSG) and assess the hidden costs to industry and individuals.
  • Bangor University and its partners will study the impact of towed fishing gear – such as scallop dredging and beam trawling – on blue carbon in seafloor sediments.

Dr John A. Terschak, project manager for the Yorkshire Ghostfishing Initiative, said:

The Holderness Fishing Industry Group is pleased to have received support from Defra as part of our industry-led efforts to address the factors that contribute to the loss of static gear; reveal the impacts of lost gear on the environment, industry and the economy in general; and identify practices and measures that could potentially reduce the risk of losing material in the future.

Our Yorkshire Coast fishermen are committed to ensuring that the marine environment remains healthy and productive so that they can continue to support their families as they have for generations.

Larissa Kunstel-Tabet, Project Manager at Safety Net Technologies, said:

The positive results of our workshops and the agreed sampling protocols paved the way for an exciting project and future trials. Working closely with skippers and scientists, there is growing excitement to get on the boats, start trials and collect data.

The UK Seafood Fund supports infrastructure improvements, research and innovation on the UK coastline and consists of four pillars of funding: science and innovation, infrastructure, skills and training, and export support.

The first cycle of the skills and training program will also launch today, with up to £5million to be made available to invest in training to develop and improve courses to upskill the industry in essential skills. The second cycle of the infrastructure program, which aims to build supply chain capacity in the UK fishing industry, will open in September. All projects will benefit from the extension of the UK Seafood Fund until March 2025.