Vessels of the Future Forum

The Vessels of the Future Forum brings together industry, researchers and government to help our fishing and aquaculture fleet transition to net zero.

The need for a Vessels of the Future Forum 

Like other industries, the seafood sector both contributes to and is affected by climate change. There are a number of pressures contributing to the need for industry to respond and to be able to access practical resources to support this response. For example: 

  • The UK Government’s Build Back Greener Strategy sets out policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet a net zero target by 2050. Scotland has set an earlier target date by 2045. 
  • The UK Fisheries Act 2020 requires the sector to minimise the impact of capture fishing and aquaculture on the climate, and also to ensure that they adapt to climate change.  
  • Record fuel prices also highlight the need for the sector to pre-competitively collaborate, to help address common supply chain challenges associated with the current reliance on oil imports.  

In April 2022, we supported (then) Fisheries Innovation Scotland’s Vessels of the Future workshop which highlighted the need for collaboration throughout the entire Scottish supply chain and related sectors. Wider industry engagement by Seafish later in 2022 confirmed a mandate for us to convene a UK Vessels of the Future Forum. 

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)

Vessels of the Future Forum focus and membership 

The Vessels of the Future Forum has been set up to facilitate engagement, discussion and initiatives to support the fishing fleet (including aquaculture service vessels) transition to net zero.  

Membership of the Vessels of the Future Forum is open to representatives from: 

  • Fishing and aquaculture industry 
  • Boatbuilders and surveyors 
  • Engine manufacturers 
  • Ports and harbours 
  • Research community 
  • Government and Devolved Administrations 

The Forum is chaired by Mike Cohen, Deputy Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations. We provide facilitation and secretariat support for Forum meetings, and will also for the development of any agreed work programmes and coordination of funding applications. 

The inaugural Vessels of the Future Forum meeting was held in December 2022. Members agreed that the Forum will meet up to four times per year until any established work programme is up and running. It was also agreed that it may be necessary to establish ‘task and finish’ working groups, bringing together specific expertise, to progress individual workstreams. Any associated meetings for these working groups would be convened at a time and frequency convenient to members. 

Mike Cohen
The Vessels of the Future Forum is chaired by Mike Cohen

Vessels of the Future Forum work themes 

Agreed working principles for the Forum focus on a need for work activities to centre on tangible outputs which address priority challenges or needs. These activities will be resourced by funding secured by, and on behalf of, the Forum. 

Work themes for the Forum 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. pilot schemes) of innovative technologies; 
  • Development of an aligned evidence-based policy, 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. 

Whilst the priority focus will be on assisting the fleet to transition to net zero, there may be a need for the remit to evolve in time, to address other challenges deemed necessary by the membership. As a result, the Forum will remain agile. 

Further updates on Vessels of the Future Forum work will be added here as projects are agreed and get underway. 

Find out more

For queries on the Vessels of the Future Forum please contact:

Dr Stuart McLanaghan
Head of Responsible Sourcing
t:
07815 427631

You can read a paper which outlines policies and proposals for decarbonising the UK economy to meet net zero by 2050 from the link below: 

You can get information on climate change emissions targets in Scotland is available in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019, you can access this from the link below: 

You can find details of the Fisheries Act 2020 from the link below: