Going to sea with their Norwegian counterparts, the Devon fishers are hoping to learn how cod fishermen from Steigen are working successfully with scientists to manage their stocks for the long term. The expedition is part of the GAP2 project, bringing fishermen and scientists together to work in true partnership.
Alan Steer fishes crabs out of Dartmouth and is currently working with scientists to better understand crab migration patterns. He explained why he’s packing his thermals for Norway: “Sustainable fishing is key to the long term future not just for ourselves but for future generations. Here in our South Devon fishery we have always used best practice to achieve this.
"But working with scientists, while important in making sure we’re on the right track, has in the past been challenging and frustrating. So it’s good to learn what others are doing – especially in this Norwegian cod fishery, where historically, fishermen and scientists have had many differences of opinion.
"Sustainable fishing is for our future, but it means working together today.”
Professor Paul Hart, a fisheries scientist for 40 years who is also going on the exchange commented: “This trip will help empower the fishers to take more responsibility for the sustainable use of their resource".
This expedition is the return trip of an exchange which saw a group of Norwegian fishermen travelling to Devon in October last year. You can read more about what happened here.
On this forthcoming trip, UK fishermen will not only be going fishing with their Norwegian hosts, they will also be visiting a salmon farm, fish processing factory and fishing village so that they can fully understand Norway’s fishing industry in its entirety, and what it takes to be sustainable in this part of the world.
Jan Andersen, a Norwegian fisher taking part in the exchange, commented: “We’re keen to welcome the UK fishermen back to Norway. Last October, we visited their fishing grounds in Devon, which did appear to be a very exposed coast, worked by very skilled and tough fishermen.
"But we’re now keen to show our fellow fishers, how and where we fish, 17 degrees North….
"We’re also looking forward to sharing knowledge about sustainable fishing, particularly because we too are developing our own fledgling crab fishery here in Norway."