Fisheries Science Alliance

SAJ-19In 2012, funding of £150,000 was announced towards a joint initiative, the Fishing Industry Science Alliance (FISA). FISA is continuing in 2013 with a further £150,000 being made available. FISA draws on the combined expertise of fishermen and scientists and supports research that delivers more sustainable and effective fisheries with projects that further scientific knowledge of Scottish fisheries.

During 2012, a steering group consisting of representatives from the catching sector, fisheries science providers and NGOs and chaired by Marine Scotland, met to discuss a framework for project proposals. A number of priority areas were identified and these remain important and relevant in 2013.

It has long been recognised that responsible, successful fisheries policy and management requires sound scientific advice and data. Perfect and complete knowledge is an unattainable goal but a realistic compromise requires all fisheries stakeholders to contribute what they can by way of information and support to meet the requirements of data gathering and research.

Such research will involve monitoring of the fish stocks for condition, size and distribution and observation of the marine habitat and wider ecosystem in which they live. Data required will include those describing biological, oceanographic, meteorological and human activity, part of which will be the assessment of fishing methods used and the levels of effort applied.

The value of such research is of particular importance when factors within the overall framework are likely to change in such a way as to influence the ecological balance of the fishery as a whole. Climate change is an example of such a feature. It is the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation view that such scientific study is an essential foundation for present and future sustainability of the fisheries in which it operates. It will cooperate and assist in the gathering of such scientific information, undertaking to:

• Participate in research and assessment programmes focussing on stock assessment, recruitment and fecundity of fish stocks.

• Participate in research and provide data to assess the levels of effort which are contributing to the exploitation of fisheries.

• Conduct research to assess new fishing gears, and promote new fishing gears and practices which are consistent with sustainable fishing practices.

• Assist, initiate and participate in research programmes which support a better understanding of the environment and its protection.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation takes pride in a close working relationship with Marine Scotland Science based at the Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen, and may undertake further studies through cooperation with government, management and scientific programmes, international scientific institutes or through its own initiative with other co-funding partners.

In 2007 the Scottish industry/science partnership project was launched and funded, to help promote closer co-operation between the industry and the scientific community. The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation is a founder member and staunch supporter.

In 2008 the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation through its subsidiary SFF Services Limited and in partnership with the Scottish Government started an independent observer scheme.

The European Fisheries Fund supported scheme employs four full time observers and a data analyst who help support the work of the Conservation Credits Steering group by collecting and processing a range of fisheries data, taking part in various selective gear trials and providing information on vessels using such gear under incentive schemes.

This resource is unique within Europe and shows the commitment of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation to the continuous improvement of the information needed to manage our fisheries.