As Defra confirmed a new funding window for applications to the Fisheries Industry Science Partnerships (FISP) scheme – part of the £100m UK Seafood Fund – funding for another 17 projects was announced last week.

The UK Seafood Fund was recently extended to 2025, and a report by the EFRA Committee chair, Sir Robert Goodwill MP, has urged the government to increase the overall funding available by a further £50m.

The 17 projects awarded funds in the latest round include support for the rapid development of an industry-led proposal to support improved assessment of ling stocks in Area IV (see opposite), and the extension of work that the Holderness Fishing Industry Group is undertaking both to find lost static gear and restore it to its owners, and also to gain a much better understanding of the different factors that lead to loss of gear in the first place.

Dr John Terschak, project leader of the Yorkshire Ghostfishing Initiative, said: “The Holderness Fishing Industry Group is pleased to have received Defra support towards our industry-led efforts to address the factors that contribute to static gear loss; reveal the impacts of lost gear on the environment, the industry and the wider economy; and identify practices and measures that could potentially reduce the chances of losing gear in the future.”

Other successful projects include funding for trials of redesigned trawls in the Farne Deeps Nephrops fishery, which FN hopes to feature shortly, and further work building on the use of LEDs in trawls to improve selectivity by SafetyNet Technologies, with commercial trials in squid and whitefish trawls due to start shortly.

Welcoming the announcement, fisheries minister Victoria Prentis said: “Our world-class fishing and seafood sectors are packed full of expertise and innovation, and the UK Seafood Fund is making sure these excellent schemes have the financial backing needed to succeed.

“We are already seeing tangible results – from LED lights in fishing nets to attract target species and deter bycatch, through to novel whelk pot designs.”

Under secretary of state for Scotland Malcolm Offord was equally happy, saying: “It’s fantastic to see four Scottish projects benefiting from nearly £270,000 of UK government investment. It will not only cement our fishing industry’s reputation as one of the best in the world, but also elevate its potential even further.

“From research into maximising cockle stocks by the University of Glasgow to monitoring ling on Shetland, there is so much hard work going on in Scotland to benefit the industry everywhere.”

Secretary of state for Wales Sir Robert Buckland added: “It’s fantastic to see Welsh projects benefiting from UK government investment.

“Bangor University (who are receiving funds to investigate blue carbon impacts of mobile gears) is a hugely important and well- respected centre for marine science, and I’d like to congratulate them on their multiple successful bids.

“And this is only the start. With the extension of the UK Seafood Fund into 2025, I want to encourage more Welsh innovators to present their plans for funding.”

Round 1 of the Skills and Training Scheme under the fund was also opened to applications last week. Up to £5m is available to invest in training to develop and improve courses to upskill the industry.

Round 2 of the Infrastructure Scheme, which seeks to build capability across the UK fishing sector supply chain, will open in September. Both schemes will benefit from the extension of the UK Seafood Fund until March 2025.

New areas of research have been included in the list of eligible projects under the scheme, including research on wider factors that may impact fishing stocks, such as offshore wind farms, and on potential adaptations to support fishing opportunities.

More information on the UK Seafood Fund can be found here, including full details of the various application windows and dates for submission.

Image credit: SafetyNet Technologies

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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