Seafish funded project outlines the future of collaboration between fishermen & science

12 July 2017

A new breed of fishermen and scientist are looking to improve the way the industry contributes to data collection at sea. Fishing into the Future, along with partners the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association (SFPA) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) have published guidelines on data collection that describe a 'recipe for success' to help these groups work more closely together.

This new tool has been produced as part of the broader Fishermen-Science Interface Programme, which was supported entirely by Seafish through their Strategic Investment Programme (SIP). The Guidelines for Industry-Science Data Collection provide a step-by-step framework - presented as a series of key questions to consider - which will support more effective data collection by the fishing industry as a whole. They provide added context through relevant case studies where fishermen and scientists have worked together successfully.

With the call for 'Big Data' increasing, fishermen can add capacity to an over-stretched system as they set-sail on potential 'research platforms' each time they leave harbor. Likewise, with an eye for quality control, fish processing factories can be efficient biological sampling platforms. Harnessing this potential will be vital for the way our seas are managed and will contribute to ensuring we have 'seafood security' for future generations.

Jim Masters, Executive Director of Fishing into the Future and project manager, said "Fishermen want to help gather data which can improve the management of their fisheries - but they often don't know what data to collect; when, how or why. This new tool answers these questions, while also tying in closely with the training work we are doing through our Fisheries Resource Education Programme. We are extremely grateful to Seafish and our other partners for their support in bringing this project together."

Steve Mackinson of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, and lead-author of the report, said "Enabling the pelagic industry to become respected providers of scientifically credible data means focusing on efficient ways to improve the quality of data. These guidelines provide a tool to help us make plans to achieve that." 

Phil MacMullen, Head of Strategic Investment at Seafish, added, "Seafish were really pleased to be able to support this valuable work and are excited by the prospect of fishermen and scientists working closer together. It's great when all the players involved can see the benefits of a well thought out scheme and this has the potential to truly revolutionize data collection in the industry."