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New Round of Partnership Projects at Fishing 2008

by Ellen Hardy
3 April 2008, at 1:00am

UK - A new range of innovative research projects to ensure the sustainable harvesting of fish stocks will be launched at Fishing 2008 in Glasgow tomorrow (4 April) under the second phase of a partnership initiative between Scottish fishermen and scientists.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the Scottish Industry/Science Partnership (SISP) scheme was first launched in May 2007 to forge closer links between the fishing industry and fisheries scientists. This year £291,000 funding is available.

Projects are considered by the SISP consultative group comprising representatives from the catching and processing sectors, environmental bodies such as SNH and WWF, science providers, the Sea Fish Industry Authority, and Fisheries Research Services who administer the funds.

Following a recent meeting of the SISP consultative and steering groups, six projects have been given approval for funding for 2008/09. Four of these are related to the ‘Conservation Credits’ scheme being managed by the Scottish Government and will help to quantify the potential for reducing discarding of whiting and other whitefish.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said: "In Scotland we have world class scientists and a fishing industry at the cutting edge of sustainable fishing. It is vitally important that we support the two to work together. The standard of applications to the fund was so high that we decided to increase the money available from £250,000 to £291,000. I hope that the projects that have received funding will be the new conservation measure of the future.

"Scotland’s approach to sustainable fishing is leading the way internationally. Government is genuinely working in partnership with the fishing industry and conservationists to secure a sustainable future for Scotland’s seas and the communities they support. This government promised a fresh start for Scotland’s fishing industry and we are now delivering on that promise."

Bertie Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: "Recognising the importance of good fisheries science and the contribution that the catching sector can make, the Scottish Industry Science Partnership is a valuable practical component of the increasingly strong relationship between fishermen and scientists.

"Now in its second year, the projects approved are closely aligned with the sustainability aspirations of the Scottish fishing industry."

Bill Turrell, Fisheries Management Programme Director at FRS, said: "The fisheries management programme in FRS is increasingly using the Scottish Industry Science Partnership to help steer our science towards areas which the industry themselves identify as being of highest priority.

"We've been really impressed with the breadth and innovation of the ideas we have received."

The six successful projects are:

  • An investigation into the selectivity of North Sea Nephrops (langoustine) gear using 110-120mm square mesh panels (SMPs) to allow undersized fish to escape.
  • A study on the selectivity of different mesh sizes and positions of SMPs for vessels of large and small horsepower on the west coast of Scotland.
  • A project on the selectivity of Nephrops gear using SMPs on small vessels on North Sea inshore grounds.
  • A study to reduce cod bycatch by the modification of a commercial whitefish trawl to incorporate large meshes in the lower part of the trawl.
  • Brown crab data collection and tagging to improve basic information on the offshore crab stock so as to help in its management.
  • The collection of fisheries and biological data on megrim in the northern North Sea (area IVa) so as to enhance the management of the stock.

Ellen Hardy