Fisheries Innovation and Sustainability (FIS) today announced two new projects, following invitations for pioneering research issued in late 2020. FIS, which brings together seafood experts, scientists and Scottish Government to champion practical innovation in fishing, sought new ideas to explore digitalisation of the Scottish fleet and understand greenhouse gas emissions from fishing vessels. Both projects offer opportunities for FIS to help the sector build business reputation, resilience and new routes to market. 

Kara Brydson, Executive Director of FIS said: “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.”

Responding to the need to combat greenhouse gas emissions across all industries, FIS will partner with consultancy MarFishEco (MFE) and Heriot-Watt University to explore specific emission issues from each fleet segment within Scottish fishing. FIS hopes this piece of research will be an important contribution by the Scottish fishing industry, especially as the Glasgow-hosted 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) edges closer. 

Experts from MFE and Heriot-Watt University will look to 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. 

MFE are excited to be selected to undertake this work as such emissions baselines are becoming increasingly important in terms of nationally determined contributions to reduce carbon emissions,” said Andrew Johnson, MarFishEco Chief Executive. 

Scotland has such 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. 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.” 

With technology playing an increasingly critical role in many crucial aspects of Scottish fisheries, through in-water gear selectivity, real-time reporting apps, and more, FIS recognised the need to accelerate its understanding of how to provide business and research intelligence to fishers, scientists and managers.

FIS will work with Verifact, a company that provides software and advisory services to the seafood sector, to audit the Scottish fishing fleet’s current and future digital capabilities, and look for opportunities learned within other sectors in order to support FIS in identifying practical, innovative projects. Frank Fleming, CEO of Verifact said:

“We are looking forward to working with FIS to identify how emerging technologies can play a key role in adding value to the Scottish seafood sector.  The project will explore how digitalisation 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.”

Over the next five weeks, both organisations 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. More information about the project teams will be released on social media channels over the next month.