Project UK

Project UK is an ambitious project led by Seafish and the MSC that builds on the success of Project Inshore and aims to work towards an environmentally sustainable future for UK fisheries. It will do this through determining the environmental performance of key commercial fisheries, demonstrate how these can move towards sustainability through Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) and ultimately achieve MSC certification where possible.

How will Project UK work?

Project UK is composed of two parallel workstreams - Project UK Mapping and Project UK Fisheries Improvements; with the potential of a third workstream focussing on further FIPs.


Using the approach devised in Project Inshore, the current environmental performance of prioritised UK commercial fisheries will be determined using a large-scale MSC pre-assessment.

Fisheries Improvements

The 'Improvements' work is composed of two separate workstreams  The first of the improvement workstreams, Project UK Fisheries Improvements (PUKFI), will run Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) on six fisheries that have been selected by the UK supply chain from the results of Project Inshore. They were selected due to their importance for the UK market. These fisheries are: 

  • North Sea plaice, demersal trawl, beam trawl & seine
  • North Sea lemon sole, demersal trawl, beam trawl & seine
  • Channel scallops, dredge
  • Western & Channel monkfish, demersal trawl, beam trawl & gill net
  • Southern crab, pots
  • Southwest lobster, pots
To find out more about Project UK Fisheries Improvements and the individual FIPs themselves, click here to learn more about FIPs and the MSC.                 

The latter of the improvements workstreams will take the fishery results from 'Mapping' and use them  to identify priority candidates for a further round of FIPs.

The purpose of both of these Workstreams is to drive improvements on the water, using MSC FIP tools to begin, and progress, on a journey towards certified sustainability.

Fisheries identified as being ready to enter assessment and likely to meet the MSC standard will be supported in carrying out full MSC assessments to ensure global independent recognition of sustainability.

A summary of the steps in the process is shown below.


What is the purpose of Project UK?

Many fisheries in the UK are some of the best-managed, data rich and well-understood in the EU. However, there are still many which are data-deficient to varying degrees and there are currently no formal processes or industry-wide agreement, of how best to improve these fisheries to the point where they meet high levels of environmental performance.

Why is this important?
Firstly the provision of data is essential for effective fisheries management; "you can't manage what you can't measure". Directly associated with this is the commercial demand for access to sustainable seafood, which is ever-increasingly becoming a requirement for market access.

Project UK is aiming to provide a "win-win" for the whole UK supply chain from the catchers to the customers; better managed fisheries, greater commercial interest and more customer choice of UK-sourced seafood. 

Who is running Project UK?

Project UK is jointly co-ordinated by Seafish (mapping) and MSC (Project UK Fisheries Improvements). The two organisations have a history of successful collaborations, including Project Inshore, and share the ambition of an environmentally and economically sustainable future for UK fisheries.

The project is advised by an advisory group formed of representatives from the UK supply chain, including the catching sector, processors, food service and retail, and NGOs who share the project ambitions.

Who determines which fisheries are 'priorities'?

There are two occasions where prioritisation of fisheries takes place; firstly the identification of those fisheries entering the 'mapping' workstream and secondly the fisheries entering the latter  round of 'improvements'. The fisheries in the first round of 'improvements' were identified through Project Inshore.

In July 2016 the Project UK Advisory Group was asked to propose candidate fisheries, in discussion with their constituencies, which meet one or more of the following criteria:    

  • Fisheries with relatively high landing values for the area/port
  • Fisheries with high demand from consumers/retailers/suppliers
  • Fisheries that play an important cultural role for the area and its communities that may not have either high consumer demand or landing value but remain vital to the local community and economy, or serve as a locally distinctive/iconic fishery. 

The 'master list' of candidate fisheries will be assessed by the Advisory Group who will be asked to identify each fishery as one of:

  • Essential
  • Desirable
  • Nice to have

The purpose of this exercise will enable us to carry out an effective tender exercise for certification bodies who will ultimately carry out the pre-assessments. The final decision on the scope of fisheries included in 'mapping' will depend upon quoted costs and available project budget. It may not be feasible to include all fisheries identified, hence the prioritisation exercise.

The second prioritisation exercise will also be guided by the Advisory Group, and while commercial/cultural importance of the fisheries will be important factors we will also need to consider the pre-assessment results.

What's next?

We will be tendering for a certification body to provide us with a cost to deliver the mapping work. We will also be tendering for an organisation, preferably an NGO, to project manage the mapping component including the administration of funding bids.

Precise timings for the commencement of Project UK mapping ultimately depend on securing a project manager and the necessary funding.

Get the Latest Updates

Sign up for our Newsletters

Don't miss a moment