A Vessels of the Future forum has been created to facilitate engagement, discussion and initiatives to support the fishing fleet and aquaculture service vessels in the transition to net zero.

The forum brings together representatives from the fishing and aquaculture industry, boatbuilders and surveyors, ports and harbours, engine manufacturers, the research community and governments. It is chaired by Mike Cohen, deputy chief executive (and soon to be chief executive) of the NFFO.

Seafish will provide the secretariat for the forum and support the delivery of its workplan going forward.

An inaugural meeting of the forum was held in December, when members discussed and agreed its working principles.

The forum’s work themes will include:

  • Development of cross-sector pre-competitive and collaborative research, data gathering and knowledge sharing that drives the deployment of innovative technologies (e.g. demonstrator schemes)
  • Development of an aligned evidence-based policy and enabling regulatory framework
  • Building carbon literacy awareness across the seafood sector, including understanding on policy drivers and clean technology readiness
  • Development of shoreside ports and harbours infrastructure in parallel with vessel fuel transition.

Dr Stuart McLanaghan, head of responsible sourcing at Seafish, said: “The seafood sector needs practical resources to support its response to climate change. Engagement with industry in 2022 confirmed a need for pre-competitive collaboration across the supply chain and wider maritime sector, to support decarbonisation across our fishing and aquaculture vessels.

“I’m thrilled that Mike Cohen is onboard as chair of the forum. Mike is widely known and respected throughout industry, and he brings valuable knowledge and insight, with his legal and science background complementing his industry experience.”

Mike Cohen added: “We cannot escape the reality of climate change: it is the biggest challenge of our age. Every industry needs to respond to it, and fishing is no exception.

“Thankfully we can already be proud of our contribution. Fishing and aquaculture put healthy food on people’s plates, with one of the lowest carbon footprints of any form of protein.

“We can do more, though. Ours has always been an adaptable industry, and this forum seeks to harness that ingenuity, to make fishing’s contribution to the aspiration of a net-zero economy even greater.

“This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the commercially sensible thing to do. Lower carbon means less fuel, and fuel prices are already close to crippling levels for many fishing businesses.

“Vessels of the Future brings together experts from many fields, with the aim of fostering collaboration and innovation in order to develop solutions and technologies that will ensure that fishing remains sustainable in every sense. I am delighted to be taking on the role of chair and excited to see what real, practical outcomes we can produce.”

Matthew Watt of Macduff Shipyards, a forum member and chairman of the UK Boatbuilders and Boat Repairs Association Ltd (UKBBA), said: “The UKBBA is delighted to be involved with the Seafish Vessels of the Future Forum.

“Fishing has been a way of life since the early days of humankind, and the association feels it is imperative that we find a way to design, build and operate emission-free fishing vessels. We look forward to contributing to the forum and helping each other find a path forward.”

Further information about the Vessels of the Future forum is available on the Seafish website.

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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