This year’s Fishing News awards, for the first time, bring together three separate panels of experts who will decide the winner in three categories: The Sustainability Award, Boat of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Two of the panels will be judging the shortlisted nominations on a set of criteria, scoring each of them separately before totalling up the scores to find a winner.

The Fishmongers’ Company, currently celebrating its 750th anniversary, is both the sponsor of The Sustainability Award and chair of the judging panel for that category. This year the panel also includes David Stevens, Newlyn skipper and chair of the charity Fishing into the Future, Hannah Fennell, head of Orkney Fisheries Association, who is also president elect of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Jo Pollett, senior fisheries manager at the Marine Stewardship Council, and Lewis Tattersall, head of fisheries management at Seafish.

The Sustainability Award recognises and rewards outstanding innovation and achievement towards improving sustainability and environmental responsibility within the UK or Irish fishing industries.

Gavin O’Donnell of the Fishmongers’ Company said: “We’re really pleased once again to see the number and range of entries for this year’s Sustainability Award. Entries are encouraged from both large-scale projects with major sustainability outcomes, and small-scale projects that provide tangible improvements to address specific sustainability problems.”

The panel will consider each nomination’s degree of innovation, the significance of its impact (or potential impact), the degree to which these impacts can be measured, and the extent of the recognition of each project within the industry. Taking all of these factors into account, the panel will then select which candidate is deemed most worthy of The Sustainability Award.

For the first time in 2023, instead of a popular vote, Boat of the Year will also be judged by a panel of independent experts, chaired by Derek Cardno, safety officer for the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation. The panel encompasses a range of expertise, from marine architecture to vessel surveying.

Speaking ahead of the judging session, Derek Cardno said: “As a group of industry representatives, we are delighted to be given the task by FN to discuss, debate and ultimately come up with a selection of fishing vessels from the assembled pool of excellent new builds.

“It is a real demonstration of the commitment of fishermen when commissioning a new build, with all the challenges this brings. The panel will look at key areas such as crew safety, operating initiatives and environmental impact, to mention just a few, when looking at each vessel on its own merits.”

The introduction of set criteria and a qualified independent judging panel for Boat of the Year is intended to make the prize even more prestigious, and will also provide some insight to readers on the innovations that are being developed at the cutting edge of the UK fleet.

The judges for Boat of the Year also include NFFO safety officer Charles Blyth, Trevor Jones, a marine architect who advises the Welsh Fishermen’s Federation, maritime consultant Nigel Blazeby, and a principal fishing surveyor from the MCA.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA), has seen a record number of nominations, with several people receiving multiple nominations, some from across different parts of the British Isles. In the past, the award has been shared between winners when the judging panel has been unable to pick a single recipient from the range of worthy contenders.

SWFPA CEO Mike Park told FN: “The Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association is delighted that once again we can support the recognition of service to the fishing sector through the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“People nominated in this category are often individuals who, in their own way, have made a significant difference to the industry’s landscape without seeking applause. We are delighted that through this award we can provide that applause.”

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

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