Tackling climate change between the COPs | Blog | Seafish

Tackling climate change between the COPs

Our Head of Responsible Sourcing talks about our ongoing work on climate change and seafood as the 27th UN climate change conference gets underway.

Why are we talking about climate change and seafood now?

The world is focused on tackling the challenges associated with climate change as the 27th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) on climate change gets underway. The event in Egypt marks the end of the UK presidency and a year since COP26 took place in Glasgow, providing ‘the’ annual platform for securing international cooperation on matters related to the climate crisis.

It’s also a year since we ran our campaign on climate change and the seafood industry, and COP27 provides an opportunity for us to reflect. Our campaign highlighted the importance of both mitigation (reducing our contributions to climate change) and adaptation (preparing for and responding to its impacts). To support this we created a suite of resources for industry stakeholders, to highlight the challenges and opportunities that these factors bring. They are still very much relevant.

Big events and campaigns are important for raising awareness, but work doesn’t stop between COPs. Ongoing awareness raising and support for positive action is part of our climate change work. We’re committed to working with industry, government, the research community and other partners to help tackle the challenges ahead.

We know that climate change is a key issue for the UK seafood industry because they have told us so. In our strategic review, industry stakeholders flagged climate change as a key priority and it will be a focus in our next corporate plan (2023-28) coming out in the spring. In the meantime, here’s an update on what’s been going on over the past year and what’s coming soon.

Text which reads ‘what climate change means for our seafood industry’ over an image of a fishing boat at sea at night lit by lights on deck
A still from our seafood and climate change campaign film

Work over the past year

We’ve shared updates on both climate change adaptation and mitigation for UK seafood over the past year.

Three hundred stakeholders took part in four meetings of our seafood issues groups specifically focusing on climate change. These sessions generated positive feedback and great discussion from informative presentations. They covered Aquaculture responses to the climate change crisis, Climate-smart mitigation for UK fisheries, The impacts of climate change on human rights, and Retailers’ marine climate change commitments.

We’re delivering a quarterly e-bulletin which seafood businesses can sign-up for, to receive key climate change mitigation and adaption updates relevant to the seafood industry. These updates bring together news on research and reports, consultations, funding opportunities and events. They are helping businesses to keep abreast of this fast-moving area and to inform their own responses to climate change.

Earlier this summer we published our latest climate change adaptation watching brief report. Coming out just after a record-breaking summer heatwave which caused significant disruption, it was certainly timely to look at adaptation in UK seafood. We are planning to update our review of climate change adaptation in wild capture in 2023/24.

Sharing emerging industry good practice, and identifying pre-competitive opportunities for collaboration, is also important to help increase awareness on how seafood businesses are responding to climate change, to help increase supply chain resilience.

New projects on the horizon 

We’ve also been working behind the scenes on some exciting projects currently under development. 

One of the most important things to support informed decision making is having access to accurate and up-to-date data. At the start of the year, our Economics team contributed to a report assessing greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland’s fishing fleet. We’ve recently had funding confirmed to expand our fuel consumption data collection project across the rest of UK and are looking to begin work on this soon.  

We’ve been busy working on redeveloping our online seafood emissions profiling tool. This practical resource will enable the seafood industry to evaluate robust, indicative product carbon footprints for their products and identify supply chain emissions hotspots, to help drive improvements. Our project proposal has been informed by both the findings from a commissioned gap analysis report and intel’ at our industry workshops. These outputs have also been peer-reviewed by recognised scientific researchers. We’ve recently launched an expression of interest to identify a suitable partner (or consortium,) to help design, build and pilot a user-friendly online tool, and expect the next phase to get underway in January 2023. 

Following industry engagement, in December we will be convening a Vessels of the Future Forum. The Forum will bring together representatives from both the fishing and aquaculture industry, together with the research community and governments. It will provide a platform to facilitate engagement, discussion and initiatives that will support the UK fishing (and aquaculture service vessel) fleet to transition to net zero. 

In additional to supporting industry, like all other organisations, we need to consider our own carbon footprint and how we will transition to net-zero. Our plans will be informed by the forthcoming Defra Group Sustainability Strategy (expected Spring 2023) which will include Seafish as a public body, and on which we continue to provide insight and expertise as a member of their Sustainability Leadership Group. We’ll also share more on our organisational commitments in our next corporate plan due for publication in the spring. 

A large wave at sea

Find out more

Further information about United Nations Climate Change COP27 is available from the link below:

Further information on climate change and the seafood industry (including our campaign film) and climate change impacts and adaptation (including our latest watching brief report) is available from the links below: 

You can sign up for e-alerts with updates on climate change and seafood on our website from the link below:

Further information

If you have any queries about our climate change work, please email climate@seafish.co.uk.