Vessels of the Future Forum | Supporting fleet transition to net zero | News | Seafish

Vessels of the Future Forum to support fleet transition to net zero

Mike Cohen chairs newly formed Forum focusing on reducing carbon emissions from UK fishing and aquaculture vessels.

A Vessels of the Future Forum has been created to facilitate engagement, discussion and initiatives to support the fishing fleet, including aquaculture service vessels, to transition to net zero.  

The newly formed Forum brings together representatives from the fishing and aquaculture industry, boat builders and surveyors, ports and harbours, engine manufacturers,  research community and governments. It is chaired by Mike Cohen, Deputy Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.  

Collage of of four vessels at sea
Vessels of the Future Forum will support fleet transition to net zero (new build vessel images from MacDuff Shipyards)

An inaugural meeting of the Forum was held in December 2022 where members discussed and agreed working principles. We have published details of agreed work themes. They will include, but are not limited to, supporting the following outline priorities:  

  • Development of cross-sector pre-competitive and collaborative research, data gathering and knowledge sharing that drives the deployment (e.g. demonstrator schemes) of innovative technologies; 
  • Development of an aligned evidence-based policy and enabling regulatory framework; 
  • Building carbon literacy awareness across the seafood sector, including understanding on policy drivers and clean technology readiness; and
  • Development of shore-side ports and harbours infrastructure in parallel with vessel fuel transition. 

We will provide the secretariat for the Forum and support the delivery of its agreed workplan going forward. 

Dr Stuart McLanaghan, our Head of Responsible Sourcing said:

The seafood sector needs practical resources to support its response to climate change. Engagement with industry in 2022 confirmed a need for pre-competitive collaboration across the supply chain and wider maritime sector, to support decarbonisation across our fishing and aquaculture vessels. We have now convened the Vessels of the Future Forum with a focus on supporting the fleet’s transition to net zero.

“I’m thrilled that Mike Cohen is on board as Chair of the Forum. Mike is widely known and respected throughout industry, and he brings valuable knowledge and insight, with his legal and science background complementing his industry experience.
Mike Cohen
The Vessels of the Future Forum is chaired by Mike Cohen, Deputy Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.

Mike Cohen, Chair of the Vessels of the Future Forum added: 

We cannot escape the reality of climate change: it is the biggest challenge of our age. Every industry needs to respond to it and fishing is no exception. Thankfully we can already be proud of our contribution. Fishing and aquaculture put healthy food on people’s plates with one of the lowest carbon footprints of any form of protein. We can do more, though. Ours has always been an adaptable industry and this Forum seeks to harness that ingenuity, to make fishing’s contribution to the aspiration of a net zero economy even greater.

This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the commercially sensible thing to do. Lower carbon means less fuel and fuel prices are already close to crippling levels for many fishing businesses. Vessels of the Future brings together experts from many fields, with the aim of fostering collaboration and innovation in order to develop solutions and technologies that will ensure that fishing remains sustainable in every sense. I am delighted to be taking on the role of Chair and excited to see what real, practical outcomes we can produce

Matthew Watt, Forum member and Chairman of the UK Boatbuilders & Boat Repairs Association LTD (UKBBA) said:

The UK Boat Builders & Boat Repairers Association are delighted to be involved with the Seafish Vessels of the Future Forum. Fishing has been a way of life since the early days of humankind and the association feels it is imperative that we find a way to design, build and operate emission free fishing vessels. We look forward to contributing to the Forum and helping each other find a path forward

Further information about the Vessels of the Future Forum is available from the link below: 

Further information 

For queries about the Forum please contact Stuart McLanaghan, Head of Responsible Sourcing by emailing