During a visit to Looe The Prince of Wales met with Alan Steer, Chairman of Fishing into the Future’s Board of Trustees and heard from a number of young fishermen who were all helped into jobs on fishing boats through The Prince's Trust's ‘Get into Fishing’ programme.
Fishing into the Future began in 2012 as an industry-led organisation, with support from The Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit, Seafish and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. It is the first large-scale collaborative project of its kind in the UK that brings together fishermen, scientists, government, environmental groups and other interested stakeholders to chart a course towards a more sustainable and profitable UK fishing industry.
It seeks to promote genuinely sustainable practices across the industry and will take a lead role in developing new sustainability training initiatives as well as efforts to increase fishermen's participation in data collection and analysis.
FITF hosted a workshop in Brixham, Devon, in July last year to bring over 100 members of the fishing industry together to discuss their issues and address their common concerns about the future of the industry. A year later, Fishing into the Future has become an independent initiative that will continue to be led by fishermen and will concentrate on two distinct work areas; sustainability training and fisher participation in science and data collection.
“Fishing into the Future as a fishermen-led organisation signals great intent on behalf of the UK industry to be world leaders in the quest for a sustainable future. HRH the Prince of Wales challenged attendees at last year’s kick-off meeting in Brixham to bring forth definitive action, not just words; I feel we’ve delivered on that,” said FITF Chairman Alan Steer.
“With new training courses in development, pilot studies on collaborative scientific evidence gathering, a firmly supported organisational structure puts fishermen at the head of this initiative and we have begun a very important journey towards unequivocal sustainability.”
The FITF science and data committee has been established with the aim of getting more fishermen involved in the data collection process required for effective fisheries management. FITF’s sustainability training committee aims to develop a training course for the fishing industry to help improve understanding of the marine environment and the wider environmental issues facing the fishing industry, whilst providing opportunities for co-learning between those in the catching sector and scientists.
With EU commissioner Maria Damanaki's recent praise of the joint work of fishermen and scientists to return several critically important North Sea fish stocks to sustainable levels, the announcement of FITF’s role in furthering these efforts and continuing the positive collaboration between the two sectors is well timed.
Fishing into the Future has set the course and will become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation with a new constitution in July 2014. It will be supported by a Board of Trustees that will include members of the fishing sector as well as scientists and supply chain representatives. The Board is chaired by Alan Steer, a crab fishermen from South Devon with the Vice Chair, Sean Dennison, an Orkney based fisherman.