Supporting a new approach to fisheries management

February 18, 2021 by 2 Comments | Category Collaborations, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), Fisheries, Marine Directorate general

A three-year project involving industry, academia and government aimed at improving fisheries management has published its conclusions.Scottish Inshore Fisheries Integrated Data System logo

The Scottish Inshore Fisheries Integrated Data System (SIFIDS) project, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and administered by the Scottish Government saw more than 130 vessel skippers in 43 ports around Scotland host research trips, have tracking and/or scanning devices installed, take part in surveys and contribute significantly to equipment and software development.

The aim of the SIFIDS project, coordinated by Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS), was to deliver a package of processes and systems designed to radically improve the way data is collected from the inshore fleet. Much of the work was assessing the feasibility – both technical and economic – of the processes and systems being developed. The ultimate goal being to use data gathered from fishermen to aid decision-making in fisheries management and marine planning.

The partnership approach to the project helped ensure that industry led solutions to inshore fisheries data collection and management were workable and could meet the requirements of government and the fishing industry. Significant world-first  prototypes, including a crab and lobster scanner capable of determining the sex and size of live animals at-sea, and a phone App to provide a daily record of landings and catch were just some of the key features to come out of the project.

Dr Mark James, SIFIDS Project Leader from University of St Andrews, said: “From the outset the project was a real team effort involving project partners: Seascope Fisheries Research, Imani Development, SAMS Research Services Limited (SRSL), and the North Atlantic Fisheries College (NAFC). Our three Facilitators were instrumental in positively engaging with industry throughout the project.

A 3D image of a lobster produced by the AS3ID Scanner. Copyright: SeaScope Fisheries Research.

A 3D image of a lobster produced by the AS3ID Scanner. Copyright: SeaScope Fisheries Research.

“So far the SIFIDS project has produced real practical outputs that can, and have, been taken forward, including the Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot that is currently trialling the SIFIDS low-cost tracking system to assist with fisheries management decision making. We have also, through the Seafood Innovation Fund, started to develop the prototypic scanning system (AS3ID) into an operational device.”

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This work has helped inform the inshore elements of our Future Fisheries Management Strategy. The benefits of Government working in partnership with the industry and academia are clear to see.

“This project has not only highlighted the importance of an evidence based, co-management approach, but has also offered up practical recommendations, that will assist in implementation of our new Strategy. A good example of this is the work on vessel tracking solutions”.

St Andrews vessels during SIFIDS project

St Andrews vessels during SIFIDS project

The SIFIDS ‘Integrated Data System’ Model

The combined results of all the SIFIDS work strands enabled the team to identify these significant areas where an integrated model could offer a low-maintenance system of data collection and reporting.

  1. Install simple GPS tracking systems on under-12 metre inshore fishing vessels to provide better information on fishing location and effort, in conjunction with the current statutory records of landings and gear deployed.
  2. Use gear-sensors to demonstrate when and where gear is being deployed or recovered, for example on some vessels using specific gear types, and/or operating in a sensitive area.
  3. Establish a small ‘reference fleet’ to collect data that could assist stock assessments.
  4. Develop low-cost, non-invasive methods to identify scallop grounds, that could be deployed from an inshore fishing vessel.
  5. Create a secure database to allow different user groups to access data in different ways e.g. fishers would see only their own data, MS Compliance could see data required for statutory purposes.

Final reports for each work strand:

Further information:

Main image: Fishing boats, Tarbert harbour. Argyll. © George Logan / NatureScot

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  • Jason says:

    Why can’t AIS just be made mandatory on all commercial Fishing Vessels, that way tracking is easy and it would also help to identify vessels involved in gear conflicts, ie mobile gear boats towing static gear.

    • Marine Scotland Communications says:

      AIS requirements, under UK Merchant Shipping Regulations, are largely a safety tool for marine traffic. We are deploying more suitable fishing vessel monitoring and tracking systems across our fleets which will, amongst other benefits, improve interaction in our waters.

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