The University of AberdeenScottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) and Fisheries Innovation and Sustainability (FIS), took home the Sustainability Award for their feasibility study into a scientific self-sampling programme at the Fishing News Awards on the 16th May 2019.

Project partners, Tara Marshall from the University of Aberdeen, and Steve Mackinson from SPFA explain the project in a little more detail and share their thoughts on the win and what it means for the industry.

The fishing industry is increasingly enthusiastic about contributing to the science that underpins sustainable management. The SPFA and FIS had a clear vision of what might be achieved by self-sampling but required assistance in identifying specific opportunities available to industry. The University of Aberdeen, a leader in fisheries science, was a natural partner for the project.

Working together, the University and SPFA communicated with stakeholders, including fishers, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Marine Scotland, and reviewed approaches to self-sampling that are taken in other countries. From this, a wide range of specific sampling opportunities were identified for herring, mackerel, and blue whiting. It was essential that each sampling opportunity was linked to tangible outcomes for stock management and business so that the direct benefits to the industry could be clearly communicated. Tara Marshall from Aberdeen University said that “one of the most exciting things that we learned during the project was that the fish processing industry holds extensive long-term data on the fat content of individual herring and mackerel. These biological data are extremely relevant to monitoring the feeding success and the overall physiological condition of the stocks. As a result of our study, we have a new PhD student at the University of Aberdeen, Susan Kenyon, who will be compiling and digitising these data over the next three years.” The continuing partnership between SPFA and the University of Aberdeen illustrates how universities can assist the fishing industry in delivering sustainable fishing while increasing knowledge about marine ecosystems. Tara Marshall “We have definitely come out of the ivory tower and down to the quayside to work alongside fishers who have unique insights by virtue of sampling the sea on a daily basis. The Fishing News Sustainability Award acknowledges the success of that partnership”

Steven Mackinson of the SPFA said “the Fishing News Sustainability Award is a wonderful recognition that the industry can lay-down credible plans for contributing to the science that underpins their businesses. It is a real feather-in-the-cap for industry initiatives, and we are moving forward to put plans into action”.

You can read the full project report here.

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