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Volume 5 | 2018

FISHING IN TO THE FUTURE In-depth introduction to the Susutainable Fishing Course and further investment within the industry.

KEEPING FISHERMEN SAFE Feature on life-saving PFDs with PLBs in collaboration with Seafish and the RNLI.

FUEL EFFICIENCY A look at innovative methods to reduce the gear drag and cut fuel consumption.


Fishing into the Future An introduction to Sustainable Fishing

November 2018 Seafish Report No. SR 731 ISBN No. 978-1-911073-37-6 © Copyright Seafish 2018 Seafish 18 Logie Mill Logie Green Road Edinburgh EH7 4HS

Authors: Name Surname Name Surname Name Surname

Newlyn Harbour, Penzance

Contents Innovative gear designs pages 02–09

Tackling the plastic challenge pages 10–15

Training opportunities for new entrants

page 02

pages 16–21

Fishing into the Future:

Introduction to sustainable fishing pages 22–27

page 10

Keeping fishermen safe pages 28–31

Man overboard ladders pages 32–35


page 16

pages 36–37

The benefits of semi-pelagic doors pages 38–41

Introducing TOPAME page 42

page 22

Letter from the

Chief Executive At Seafish we know that seafood is the way forward for business, the way forward for our communities, the way forward for the environment and the way forward for our personal health and wellbeing.

‘Seafood is the way forward’ is our rallying cry. We aim is to unite the industry behind a common purpose and build a common voice.

Our Quay Issues magazine is packed full of fantastic examples of people in this wonderful industry also looking to the future, looking for ways to innovate, optimise and seek out change for the better. I believe those looking in from the outside at the Fishing Industry would be surprised at just how much innovation and positive disruption is going on. But far from it; - Quay Issues describes the business imperative that the Landings Obligation has created and how fishers are responding to that challenge with innovative gear design. - The magazine provides an overview of how the industry is taking its share of the responsibility for reducing plastic use and increasing retrieval and recycling activity. - Essential to the future is a steady stream of new entrants to the industry – none of us are getting any younger! Quay Issues has two excellent features on the excellent work of the network of Seafish Approved Training Providers and it reports on a very forward looking initiative (Fishing Into The Future) in which fishers are working alongside the scientists and policy makers in such a way that all are better informed about each other’s expectations and challenges.

Aside from the obvious innovations and new approaches covered in Quay Issues, the other big take-away for me is the very evident passion for their industry that all the individuals featured in the stories seem to have. That passion, I’m convinced, is something you cannot buy, it is something inherited, passed down the line and fortunately it is infectious. I defy you to read Quay Issues and not feel upbeat and optimistic about the future of the UK Fishing Industry!

Editorial Team

- And finally, given that fuel costs can be the difference between profit and loss, it isn’t surprising that Quay Issues has cast its net around two innovations that might just help to make all the difference to fuel consumption – trials suggest that one such approach could reduce fuel costs by 15%!

Meet the

- Safety, as we all know, is a big issue. Too many are lost at sea every year. This edition of Quay Issues provides a focus on two very positive initiatives both designed to provide access to vital safety equipment and to encourage its deployment at sea. We believe that both these projects have already saved lives!

Kirsten Milliken Quay Issues Editor & Economics Project Manager

Ana Witteveen Assistant Economist

Lewis Cowie Economics Researcher

Enjoy the magazine

Marcus Coleman CEO, Seafish

Marta Moran Quintana Economics Researcher



Developing Selective Gear: Nearing the end of the Journey By Ana Witteveen Can innovative gear designs prepare the fleet for the full landing obligation in 2019 Here, Quay Issues takes a closer look at an innovative design undergoing final testing on the MFV Amity II (PD177). “Tea or coffee?” calls out the skipper, Phillip Reid. Down in the galley of the Amity, representatives from industry, science and government await Philip as they make final preparations for the upcoming trial. In a few short hours, the Amity will set sail with three observers from the Independent On-Board Observer Scheme (IOOS) for a final chartered trip to test the gear they have spent nearly four years developing. With the discard ban coming into full effect in January 2019 and continued consumer demand for certified and sustainable seafood, fishermen are under pressure to show they’re minimising unwanted catch – undersize fish or fish they have no quota for.



Amity skipper Philip Reid

In a mixed fishery, fishing selectively is easier said than done. To make it work, fishermen need commercially available and viable solutions and there is no one better to develop them than fishermen themselves. As the countdown to full implementation of the discard ban continues, projects are underway around the UK, bringing together fishermen, scientists and gear technologists. CEFAS, Northern Ireland Gear Trials and the Gear Innovation and Technology Advisory Group (GITAG) are all hard at work developing and testing technical solutions to reducing bycatch. “Innovation is the most difficult part of the gear development process,” explains Mike Montgomerie, Gear Technologist at Seafish, who helped develop and support the project. “It’s really important for industry to collaborate with scientists, gear technologists and gear manufacturers throughout the process to ensure they get the concept right.” For the Amity, a twin-rig prawn trawler operating out of Peterhead, the gear development process began in 2013. “I’ve been trying out different gear modifications for the past five years and we’ve finally got something that really works,” says Amity owner Jimmy Buchan. When Jimmy began work on gear selectivity, he was thinking from a business and marketing perspective. For him, developing the gear was about eliminating undersized fish, maximising high quality prawns and retaining a small amount of high-grade fish.

The Landing Obligation will be fully implemented on the 1st January 2019

“I was looking for a way to maximise the value of my catch,” explains Jimmy. “But I also knew that things couldn’t keep going as they were in the industry. The prawn fisheries that we target aren’t MSC certified, so it’s important for us to find other ways to show that we’re fishing selectively and sustainably.”




Inclined square mesh net grid Nephrops

Inclined square mesh net grid Fish Nephrops

“I think the 110mm mesh will give us the best result,” Philip reasons. “The 100mm mesh is too similar to the 80mm and will retain too much small fish and the 120mm mesh will be too big and release too much high-grade fish.”

Since 2015, Jimmy has worked closely with GITAG, Jackson Trawls and Mike Montgomerie to develop a piece of gear to achieve his ambitious goals of eliminating unwanted catch and maximising sales value. The first step of the gear development process was to look at a scale model of the gear in the flume tank in Hirtshals, Denmark to see how it performed under different conditions. Once the first design was approved, a full-scale net was built and taken to sea on board the Amity. The prototype had an inclined square mesh net grid and two cod-ends, one above the other, each with a different mesh size. The idea behind this design is that prawns drop through the inclined square mesh grid into the lower cod-end, while fish are guided over the grid and into the upper cod-end, where smaller fish can escape out of the larger mesh. Testing took place in two stages. The first involved finding the best placement, angle and mesh size for the net grid to optimise the separation of prawns from fish. The second was to fine-tune the selectivity of the upper cod-end to release small and undersized fish without losing high value fish.


The final charter trip in August was the culmination of a lot of work. “It’s really the pinnacle. We’ve invested a lot of time and money into the development and testing of this gear, but it’s worth it because we’re investing in our future,” emphasises Jimmy. During this final stage of testing, Philip tested different mesh sizes on the upper cod-end to figure out which would return the best catch composition. Three mesh sizes were tested against the standard 80mm mesh: 100mm, 110mm and 120mm. Philip had been using this gear for several months before the final charter and has a good idea of what the results will be. “I think the 110mm mesh will give us the best result,” says Philip. “The 100mm mesh is too similar to the 80mm and will retain too much small fish and the 120mm mesh will be too big and release too much high-grade fish.” But the success of this gear isn’t just about catch composition. For the gear to be used commercially, it must be financially viable over the long term. Skippers can, to some extent, estimate the financial viability of a new piece of gear based on costs and earnings from a single trip, but these may not be accurate over the long term.


“Vessel owners can make better decisions about which gear to use or how to tune the gear if there’s evidence that they can benefit financially from a gear change”

Jimmy and Philip have already found that separating prawns from fish using the inclined net grid improves the value of their catch and reduces sorting time on board, compared to fishing with their old gear. They are also able to save on fuel by reducing drag and improve catch quality by reducing damage to the catch. “Before this gear, I’d never seen such good quality or prices from a twin-rig,” Jimmy insists. “What’s not to like?” adds Philip. “I can sell almost 100% of my prawns for a good value because they are such good quality, and I can select out the small fish so that I’m maximising the value of my catch.” Philip goes on to say “I’d rather have less bulk but a more marketable catch, than a larger bulk that I can’t sell.”

At the end of the day, it all comes down to economics. Seafish has developed a new standard method for assessing the financial viability of gear to help skippers gather accurate financial information from trials and make more informed decisions about gear. Scientists, fisheries managers, and other fishermen need hard evidence of economic performance to make policy and business decisions. The guidance is now also being used in scientific trials ensuring that scientists and fisheries managers alike understand that catch composition is only part of the story. Gear must be economically viable for businesses to ensure they can continue fishing. “Vessel owners can make better decisions about which gear to use or how to tune the gear if there’s evidence that they can benefit financially from a gear change, either because they aren’t losing target species or gross, or if they’re counteracting income loss with lower costs” explains Mike Montgomerie.

“Businesses need to remain profitable,” says Mike. “If the gear isn’t going to be financially viable, there’s no sense in using it, no matter how selective it is.” For the Amity’s final charter, financial data was officially collected using the standard method developed by Seafish. The financial assessment, which includes estimating operating costs and gross fishing income, show which upper cod-end is best for business. Jennifer Mouat, GITAG Project Manager said, “The economic data collected during the final scientific trial will provide much needed evidence of the commercial viability of this gear modification to help inform business and policy decisions related to the acceptance of this gear.” The development stage of the Amity’s net is now coming to an end. Trials have shown that the gear can effectively reduce bycatch; the financial assessment will also hopefully prove that this has been achieved without negatively impacting profits. The next step involves taking the gear forward to get it approved for commercial use.



Testing timeline aboard the MFV Amity II

Nearing the end of the Journey:



2015 March 2015 : Jimmy Buchan visits the Flume Tank in Hirtshals with other fishermen from North East Scotland; while in Denmark, Jimmy gets idea from a local prawn boat for net grid design with an escape for fish

January 2015 Landing obligation for pelagic fisheries

April 2015: Jimmy returns to Flume Tank to look at different selective gear options August 2015: Initial discussions with GITAG to test net grid on board Amity

February 2016: First version of net grid taken to sea on Amity March 2016: First charter trip on board MFV Amity to test different mesh sizes for net grid; first report produced

2016 January 2016 Start of demersal landing obligation in the North Sea and North Western Waters

November 2016: Amity trials ongoing; determine that 400mm net grid mesh gives best separaEon result

2017 February 2017: Amity net grid modifications tested in Flume Tank June 2017: Amity hopper altered to be able to receive separate catches

January 2017 Demersal landing obligation expanded to include more species in the North Sea and North Western Waters

August 2017: Second charter trip on board the Amity; second report produced

2018 August 2018: Final charter trip on board Amity to test different mesh sizes for upper cod-end; economic data collected; final report produced

January 2018 Demersal landing obligation further expanded to include more species in the North Sea and North Western Waters

December 2018: Final gear report sent to Marine Scotland Policy. Current end of derogation for Amity

2019 January 2019 Full implementaon of the landing obligation for all quota managed species



“Everything we’ve done has been building to this,” explains Jimmy. “We’ve finally got a piece of gear that gives us high quality prawns and whitefish, which wasn’t possible before. If we can get it approved, it’ll be available for other vessels to use, giving prawn trawlers more options.” “Because it’s been so thoroughly tested,” adds Mike, “other vessel owners should be able to pick it up easily. Obviously every vessel is different, but with some tweaks others will hopefully get similarly positive results.” “If it gets approved for commercial use, I’d definitely be interested in using it,” confirmed another skipper operating in the same fishery. GITAG is keen to work with other skippers who are interested in trying this gear. “We want to make sure that other boats get the right set up so that the gear works for them as well,” says Jennifer.

So what’s next for this gear? To find out more about what it takes to get a gear modification approved for commercial use, Quay Issues caught up with Jane MacPherson of Marine Scotland. “The Amity is a fantastic example of the kind of progress we hoped to see come of the landing obligation. We have a real opportunity with this gear to translate an innovative design into something concrete which can be taken forward to a commercial scale.” Currently this gear cannot legally be used commercially without an official derogation because of the different mesh sizes in the upper and lower cod ends. Using the scientific evidence gathered on the Amity trials, the government may be able to either change current technical regulations, or approve an on-going derogation allowing others to use the gear on a trial basis. Jane went on to say that if the final report for the gear returns the expected results and is scientifically sound, then Marine Scotland will do what they can to allow it to be used commercially, “We’ll try to find the best way to enable continued use,” says Jane.

“Because it’s been so thoroughly tested, other vessel owners should be able to pick it up easily - and with some tweaks get similarly positive results.”



Amity II at sea

Jane noted the many challenges surrounding the landing obligation, but sees technical innovation as an important tool to make it a workable policy. “Selectivity issues are different in each fishery, but our hope is that innovative technical solutions will continue to be developed in areas where improvements can be made,” explains Jane. Creating innovative gear that works is a repetitive and sometimes lengthy process, but the Amity trials show that determination and perseverance can pay off. Getting selective gears like this one on the market will better prepare fishermen to operate profitably under the new landing obligation. At the end of the day, fishing must remain profitable for the industry; it must be economical to go to sea. After all, sustainability is about livelihoods and communities as well as the environment. We need information on all these aspects to ensure good decision making and choices when it comes to managing fisheries. Without the economic data, you can only tell half of the story. The Amity trials show strong evidence for the net grid design operating profitably while reducing unwanted catches. This is a prime example of industry leading the way in developing technical solutions that are both practical and economically effective, proving that playing by the rules of the landing obligation doesn’t have to drive fishermen out of business.

IOOS and GITAG are run by SFF Services, a whollyowned subsidiary of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, and are funded by the Scottish Government and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Members include: SFF Services, Marine Scotland Policy, Marine Scotland Science, Seafish and the Scottish Association of Fish Producers Organisations (SAFPO).



Tackling the plastic challenge What can be done to help reduce plastic waste? By Marta Moran Quintana



“Unless I am very much mistaken, this invention will prove important to the future”, Leo Baekeland, Chemist, wrote on his diary on 11 July 1907. The invention to which he referred was a synthetic polymer he called Bakelite, the precursor of modern plastics. Baekeland was not mistaken. Begun in the 1950s, mass production of plastics did indeed change the future. From keeping food fresh longer to making disposable syringes, plastics transformed our world, and fishing was no exception. Before plastic, fishing nets and pots were traditionally made of natural materials such as willow, wood, linen and hemp. The new synthetic plastics quickly replaced all these materials and the new fishing gear was stronger, lighter weight, more durable and cheaper. Before long plastic fishing gear had taken the fishing industry by storm. As early as 1959, synthetic nets were described as “a revolution in modern fishing”. Nigel Legge, skipper of the Razorbill (SS268) in Cadgwith, recalls how he used to make his own willow pots, but stopped the moment that the new plastic pots came out. “I just threw all my tools in a corner and didn’t touch them again for twenty-odd years”, says Nigel. “Plastic lasts longer and can work in ways that willow won’t allow.” The days of artisanal gear-making were coming to an end, and plastic gear became the norm. Today, plastics are everywhere, often even in places they were never intended to be. A University of California research team estimated in 2017 that humanity has produced over 8 billion tonnes of plastics since 1950, over three-quarters of which has ended up as waste.

Nigel Lege, Cadgwith

Unfortunately, much of that waste finds its way into the sea. The same California research team estimated that in 2010 alone, between 4 million and 12 million tonnes of plastics ended up in the ocean. Some of that waste is fishing gear, estimated to make up a tenth of all marine litter. Fishing gear lost at sea is known as “ghost gear” and can persist in the environment, where it continues to catch fish, from which nobody benefits. Plastic has become a victim of its own success. The very same characteristics that make plastics ideal for packaging, construction and fishing gear—versatility, durability and resistance—also make them a serious environmental issue.



Removing the catch from experimental biodegradable gillnet. Image courtesy of SINTEF

Plastics in the environment can take hundreds of years to degrade in the ocean, where they break down into micro plastics that marine life can ingest. This presents a major problem for the fishing industry. Long credited as a healthy protein, there is now a risk that consumers may lose confidence in seafood because of micro-plastic contamination. Micro plastics made headlines in the UK recently as researchers from the University of Plymouth reported finding tiny plastic pieces in a third of the fish in a sample caught in the English Channel. The public and regulators are becoming increasingly aware of the problem of plastic pollution, and in 2018 DEFRA launched a consultation to gather views on tackling pollution from single-use plastics. Launching the Conservative Party’s new environmental plan in January, Theresa May pledged that the UK would eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042. In the near future, we’ll likely see new legislation to control plastic waste. Projects are already underway around the world to reduce plastic waste from fishing activities. In 2017, the UK and Scottish governments joined Global Ghost Gear Initiative, an international initiative to reduce the amount of derelict fishing gear at sea. Society is clearly urging that something be done about plastic pollution in the ocean—but what can the fishing industry do? Going back to pre-plastic times is not a viable solution. Natural materials are less durable, and fishermen would need to spend more time and money repairing or replacing gear. Furthermore, the fishing industry has changed significantly since the 1950s, making traditional gear no longer suitable. Nigel still makes willow pots, but not for fishermen to use at sea. “These pots are probably better than plastic ones, but they were designed for very small boats hauling by hand. They wouldn’t survive the way big vessels work. I went back to making them just because someone asked me for a pot to decorate their garden.”



What if there was a material as durable and resistant as plastic that doesn’t break down into a harmful substance when it degrades at sea? Could a safe, biodegradable material replace plastic fishing gear? That’s precisely what Eduardo Grimaldo, fisheries researcher at SINTEF (Norway), is working on. Grimaldo, his team and the industry are trialling biodegradable gillnets that could help reduce the problem of ghost gear. “There is interest from the Norwegian fishing industry in using more environmentally friendly materials”, Eduardo explains. He is particularly interested in the fleet catching Greenland halibut, whose gillnets, deployed at great depth, are difficult to recover if lost or tangled. Eduardo and his team are trialling nets developed in South Korea, where the local fishing industry has been using them for around 10 years. Norwegian fishermen helped modify the nets to suit their needs and trialled them over two years on commercial fishing vessels covering the entire fishing season for halibut, saithe and cod. In the trials, conventional nylon nets and biodegradable nets were deployed side by side to compare their performance. Early results showed that the biodegradable nets had lower catch rates than standard nylon nets, around 10-15% lower in terms of number of fish caught. Nylon nets were also better at catching bigger fish, likely because the biodegradable nets were slightly more susceptible to wear and tear and degradation. Could biodegradable nets be a solution then? Although the first trials showed lower catch rates from biodegradable nets, Eduardo and his team are not ready to give up. He believes they show huge potential, and that with more research and innovation they will be able to create a safe biodegradable net that is as effective as conventional nylon. He says, “Fishermen tell us they would be happy to use these nets, but the lower catching efficiency is an issue for them.” Cost could be another issue. At present, alternatives to plastic are expensive. The nets purchased for the trials cost about twice as much as standard nylon nets. However, Eduardo noted the biodegradable nets are much cheaper in South Korea, where the demand is higher than in Norway. New materials are always more expensive at the start of the production process because of the basic law of supply and demand. But phasing out and replacing plastics in coming years would cause alternative materials to become more widely available and cheaper. Eduardo is planning further trials for late 2018, when the team will test a new biodegradable net made of thicker filaments. They believe this new design will show improved strength and efficiency, comparable to standard nylon nets. There are also plans to trial biodegradable rope — the Norwegian aquaculture and fishing industries use around 22,000 tonnes of plastic rope every year, much of which gets lost at sea.

Dolly rope on a beam trawl



Leo Baekeland was right when he predicted his invention would change the future. What he probably did not imagine was the challenges it would also bring over a century later. Those challenges are for us to solve, and the fishing industry’s skills and determination to protect the seas will be essential to addressing them.


Biogdegradable filament used to make gillnest. Image courtesy of SINTEF


Back in the UK, research to reduce plastics in fishing is taking a slightly different approach. Instead of removing plastics from fishing gear altogether, some net designers are looking at different ways of constructing nets that require smaller amounts of plastic net and rope. One particular type of plastic waste from fishing gear is attracting attention from researchers and net makers: dolly rope. With threads around 2m long, dolly rope is widely used on North Sea demersal vessels to protect the cod end against friction with the seabed. The DollyRopeFree project in the Netherlands estimates that up to a quarter of the dolly rope used in a trawl will tear off and end up in the sea. An estimated 25 tonnes of dolly rope enter the North Sea every year as plastic waste. Darren Edwards, from Brixham Trawl Makers, told us about their new trawl design that uses drastically reduced amounts of dolly rope. The first step was to increase mesh size in the trawl, which alone helped to cut the amount of dolly rope used by a third. As Darren explains, “If you have a bigger mesh, you have fewer meshes in the trawl to put the rope through.” In recent years, Darren and his team have managed to further eliminate the need for dolly rope by reshaping the trawl. “We used to have a lot of the net sitting on the bottom; now, it sort of cylinders so that only a few meshes go across the seabed. If you put dolly rope there, it would just drag the net down, so we took it out—and it works.” For the last few years, several vessels in Devon have been using this trawl design, not only reducing plastic pollution but also saving them money. Darren explains, “Previously you had to cut up the old ropes and put new ones in; now, it is cheaper to cut a piece of net and replace it. All the net we cut here then goes into a recycling sack.” Other fishermen in Cornwall are using similar designs of their own. Leo Baekeland was right when he predicted his invention would change the future. What he probably did not imagine was the challenges it would also bring over a century later. Those challenges are for us to solve, and the fishing industry’s skills and determination to protect the seas will be essential to addressing them.

READ MORE Read more about the financial costs of lost gear in the 2016 edition of Quay Issues magazine: http://www.seafish.org/research-economics/ industry-economics/quay-issues For more information on microplastics and their consequences for the seafood industry read: http://www.seafish.org/media/Publications/ FS104_07_18_Microplastics_information_sheet_July_2018.pdf



Training opportunities for new entrants 16 QUAY ISSUES


Are there still opportunities for young people at sea? the short answer is yes, but perhaps the better question is: How do you prepare new entrants for a career in fishing? Boat owners often tell us they struggle to find skilled, reliable crew. Some even say they’ve had to postpone or cancel fishing trips, losing days at sea and potential fishing income because they don’t have enough crew to operate the boat. In the past, it was common for youngsters to learn fishing from the older generation, sometimes before leaving school. Changes in workplace regulations mean that traditional routes into the industry are now less common, as Linda Hope, Manager at the Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead explains, “Though new entrants traditionally came through a family connection, that’s not necessarily the way anymore. The next generation of fishermen may not come from fishing families at all.” To meet the demand for skilled crew, comprehensive new entrant training programmes are essential. The legal requirement for basic safety training is sea survival, firefighting, first aid, and health & safety. These four basic courses are absolutely necessary for anyone training to work as a fisherman.

Basic sea survival training

Many training providers also offer in-depth training that incorporates hands-on learning, particularly for new entrants, to help better prepare them for fishing careers. These include programmes like Seafish’s 3-week Introduction to Commercial Fishing (ICF) course, Whitby Fishing School’s 12-month Diploma and the Modern Apprenticeship in Sea Fishing at NAFC in Shetland or The Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead. Established in 2009, Seafish’s 3-week ICF course is now delivered by 12 training providers around the UK. The fully-funded course includes training on ropes and knots, care of catch, net mending, basic engineering, navigation, and the mandatory basic safety courses.

“Including a practical element is crucial to ensure students have the skills required to work effectively” But preparing for a fishing career requires training beyond the classroom, as Linda explains, “Including a practical element is crucial to ensure students have the skills required to work effectively.” At the Anglo-Scottish Seafish and Seafood Training Association in Amble, training manager Dennis Osborne adds a day at sea on a local boat into the ICF course where possible. “If we can get them out on a vessel, even for a day, it gives trainees the opportunity to practice some basics and make sure it’s for them,” Dennis explains. Students on the ICF course at Coleg Llandrillo spend time on a chartered boat to get boat handling and navigation experience. The boat makes stops along the Welsh coastline, giving students a well-rounded understanding of the entire seafood supply chain. Andy White, course coordinator at Coleg Llandrillo explains, “it’s all about engaging with students in a practical way, both on- and off-shore.” The Whitby and District Fishing Industry Training School has also combined practical learning through their Diploma in Sea Fishing. The Diploma is the only year-long training programme in England with a built-in 10-month placement as a trainee deckhand. The Whitby fishing school was set up 16 years ago to bring new life to the local fishing community after Whitby-based skippers raised concerns about the lack of newcomers joining the industry.



Seafish approved training providers around the UK 11

11. North Atlantic Fisheries College 01595 772000 mark.fullerton@uhi.ac.uk www.nafc.uhi.ac.uk

1. Orkney College 01856 569401 mark.shiner@uhi.ac.uk www.orkney.uhi.ac.uk


2. Western Isles Sea Fisheries Training Association 01851 702385 | 07748 332595 duncan@craigard.co.uk


3. Fish Industry Training Association (Highlands & Islands) 01583 431570 | 07771 681428 lachie.paterson@btinternet.com www.fita.info

4. Sea Fish Industry Training Association (Northern Ireland) 02842 771556 juanita@sfitaportavogie.co.uk 07484 019496 www.sfitani.co.uk

13. Scottish Maritime Academy 01779 476204 | 07540 715856 lhope@nescol.ac.uk www.smaritime.co.uk

12 13

14. South of Scotland Seafish Training Association 07856 023172 sosstatraining@aol.com 15. Anglo-Scottish Seafish & Seafood Training Association 01665 713823 | 07702 042551 assta.amble@gmail.com



16. Whitby & District Fishing Industry Training School 01947 825871 | 07796 943996 info@whitbyfishingschool.co.uk www.whitbyfishingschool.co.uk


5. Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organisation 028 4176 2855 Lynda@sea.source.com www.seasource.com 6. Coleg Llandrillo Tel: 01492 546666 Ext. 523 white1a@gllm.ac.uk www.gllm.ac.uk

12. North East Fishermen’s Training Association 01346 513074 | 07958 110879 james@nefta.info www.nefta.info

4 16 5 17

7. Welsh Sea Fish Industry Training Association www.welshseafishindustry.com

6 18

8. The Fishing College 01297 445097 | 07717 752544 lyme.fish@hotmail.com www.thefishingcollege.co.uk

17. East Coast Maritime Training 01964 204044 | 07828 287532 office@eastcoastmaritimetraining.co.uk www.eastcoastmaritimetraining.co.uk


9. Western Maritime Training 01752 770589 h.bennett@wm.training www.westernmaritime.training 10. Seafood Cornwall Training 01736 364324 info@seafoodcornwalltraining.co.uk www.seafoodcornwalltraining.co.uk


8 10



18. Eastern Seafish Training Association 01362 822449 | 07754 196777 clivemonkesta@btinternet.com www.eastern-seafish.org.uk 19. Red Ensign Training 01983 294 088 marlena@redensigntraining.com www.redensigntraining.com


The diploma is open to 16-24 year olds and attracts applicants from all over the UK. As Anne Hornigold, Chief Executive of Whitby Fishing School explains, “A small percentage of trainees come from fishing families, but we also get trainees from places like Sheffield or Manchester who come in with no background and are absolute naturals!”

The mixed class is really beneficial – the trainees can share their experiences with the new enrolment. Whitby fishing School trainees: (left to right) Ethan, Rory, Charlie and Jack

Training includes 10 weeks of classroom-based training and 10 months of practical experience as a trainee deckhand on board a fishing boat. In the classroom there is often a mix of trainees who have been to sea as trainee deckhands and trainees who are brand new. “The mixed class is really beneficial,” says Anne. “They all chat together and the trainees who have been to sea can share their experiences with the new enrolment.” Trainees are matched with a local boat, as Anne explains, “We know the skippers quite well, so we try to match trainees with skippers who we think will work well together. Different people respond better to different things so it’s important that we make the right matches to give trainees the best opportunity to succeed.” The school agrees on a training plan with skippers to ensure trainees get enough experience with each of the relevant tasks. The skipper or first mate completes the trainee’s sea log to confirm they have covered all the training. Progress is tracked and reviewed every eight weeks to ensure the trainees are on track to complete their training within 12 months. “We couldn’t run without the skippers,” emphasises Anne. “They keep taking on trainees year after year without any incentive except to get more youngsters into the industry. They’re absolutely superb.” Luke Russell skippers a 10m boat, fishing for lobsters and crabs out of Whitby. He’s had four trainees from the

Quay Issues spent the day at the Whitby Fishing School to learn more about the diploma and caught up with four current trainees. Rory, from a fishing family in Whitby, decided to join the diploma to get well-rounded, good quality training before he started working on a fishing boat. “I think the diploma will make me better prepared for work at sea than the basic safety training alone,” says Rory. Charlie, relocated from Newcastle to do the diploma, and says he’s keen to “try everything” and is “ready for a challenge”. Jack, from Hull, heard about the sea fishing diploma from a friend who had completed the training. Jack decided to enrol in the programme because of the depth and range of training it provides, preparing him for a job at sea. Ethan travelled all the way from Cornwall to join the course. He comes from a long line of fishermen and is keen to carry on the family tradition. These four trainees went to sea in the middle of August after completing two weeks of classroom training, including the four basic safety courses, and will remain on their “trainee” boats until November when they will complete their classroom training. fishing school on his boat over the past three years, one of which he kept on for a year after completing the Diploma.

start learning until they get on board, because there’s a limit to what you can learn in the classroom.

“I haven’t had a bad one yet!” says Luke. “They’ve all been keen to learn and get stuck in. Once they pick it up, they pick it up quickly and work hard,” says Luke.

Every day is different, and once they settle on the boat they can really learn how it works.”

Luke sees the practical component as vital for new trainees, “They don’t really



Basic sea survival training

“With few people coming into the industry, it’s even more important to give young people the opportunity to get real experience and training” At 32, Luke says he’s the second youngest skipper working out of Whitby, and that a lot of local fishermen are nearing retirement. “With few people coming into the industry,” he explains. “It’s even more important to give young people the opportunity to get real experience on board fishing boats as part of their training so that they can see what it takes.

The trainee deckhand placements are a win-win for trainees and skippers. Skippers do not have to pay the trainees a salary, and trainees are not out of pocket because the school supports them financially. “Trainees are given a weekly hardship allowance and the school covers all of their costs; travel, bed, breakfast and evening meals,” explains Anne.

Without the school, there would be even fewer people coming in, and if there aren’t enough people coming in, there won’t be an industry.”

All in all, trainees graduate with 12 certificates, a full kit of safety gear and 10 months of deckhand experience.

Whitby harbour



“Graduates of the diploma programme are very employable,” Anne maintains. “It’s far easier for graduates with the diploma to find placements on boats once they finish than if they only had their basic safety training. A lot of skippers want to take our graduates because they’ve had 10 months experience at sea. Our trainees leave with the right qualifications and experience so the whole training is more robust.” The school also helps graduates find work in the fishing industry. “Often-times,” says Anne, “skippers will ring us and ask if we’ve got anyone who has just qualified or is about to. Other times the skipper who they’re training with will offer them a permanent position once they qualify.”

Whitby Fishing School training


months experience

10 156

weeks training

graduates since 2004

Whitby Fishing School also set up the website www.ukfishingjobs.org a few years ago to help match vacancies with potential candidates, as Anne explains, “Skippers log on to their part of the website and enter information about the position they want to fill. Then on the other side, people looking for work log on to their part of the website and enter details about their qualifications, the position they’re looking for and where they are based or are willing to travel to.” Behind the scenes, the database matches suitable candidates with job postings and sends the employer information on the most suitable candidates. “Some match exactly and some are a best match, but it gives employers a good list of possible candidates,” explains Anne.


Though many jobs are still found through word of mouth, this and other websites like www.findafishingboat.com can match candidates with jobs that they wouldn’t otherwise hear about. Since it opened in 2002, the Whitby Fishing School has had huge success in training the next generation of fishermen. The diploma scheme alone has had 156 successful graduates since 2004. The school monitors where graduates go when they finish, and according to Anne, the majority stay in the industry. “In fact,” says Anne, “Some of the fishermen who now live in Whitby came from elsewhere to train at the school and have settled here because they’ve found positions on local vessels.” These “old boys”, many of whom are now skippers themselves, will often take on a trainee from the school. “It’s all cyclical,” says Anne. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the UK fishing industry is diverse and one size does not fit all. But with training providers increasingly offering more in-depth training with the opportunity to gain practical sea experience, new entrants will be more skilled when they enter the industry.




Fishing into the Future

An introduction to

Sustainable Fishing By Kirsten Milliken


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In a darkened room, fishermen are hunched over a map indicating the locations and size of available fish stocks; they are all deep in thought. At the front an official is reading results, “OK” she says. “This season plaice quota will be reduced by half because the stock assessment shows it is overfished. To protect a rare seabed habitat, there will be a closed zone here,” she says scoring off a huge area on the map, “and netting for bass hris M ar tin of C y is now banned.” te s e



The fishermen begin to sweat as they quietly plan their strategies for the coming season. The official looks at her watch and counts down, “Three, two, one, go!”


way to do that is to give fishermen an opportunity to overfish something.” In March 2018, FITF hosted their second residential course on sustainable fishing, An Introduction to Sustainable Fishing. This event in Devon was similar to a course run in Scotland in 2017 but focussed specifically on the inshore fleet. The course was designed to give aspiring industry leaders a well-rounded understanding of fisheries management and science and to introduce them to key people involved in those areas. All the speakers from science and management are also participants, learning from fishermen what it’s like to run a fishing business in the UK today.

There’s a sudden flurry of activity as the fishermen reach across the map to catch the remaining peas and beans on the board. When the whistle blows, the fishermen return to their starting positions to exchange their pulses for hard cash.

The Peas and Beans game is a tool used to demonstrate how commercial fishing is managed on a nationwide scale. Seventeen fishermen recently took part in this exercise at a course designed and hosted by Fishing into the Future (FITF), a charity focused on sustainability, innovation and prosperity for the UK fishing sector. “The Peas and Beans game is about understanding fisheries management,” says Pete Williams, fisherman and FITF trustee. “It’s about showing how fishermen are managed and the easiest

“The course is about explaining science and management in an understandable and manageable way,” says Pete. “There’s everything from selling the catch, trying to get the highest value from it, the economics, managing different aspects of the fishery, right down to an open seminar on gear technology. It’s just a really good opportunity for people to understand and become confident about the industry they work in rather than be scared of it.”



Quay Issues caught up with Glen Milligan, a rod and line fisherman from Portsmouth, who attended the course. “I’m quite new to the industry,” says Glen, “and thought it would be nice to learn a bit more about some of the bodies involved and a bit more about the industry.”

Rod and line fisherman Glen Milligan

Glen moved from angling into commercial sea bass fishing two years ago. Like many fishermen, Glen has not had a great deal of opportunity to work with fisheries scientists and managers, as he explains, “Fishermen are generally quite isolated in their work. They’re quite removed from the big organisations. The only people I’d met in the industry, apart from the local guys, were guys that I met on various fishing courses, safety courses and what have you. And, most of the information I had gained was from the internet, Facebook particularly.” The course provides a unique opportunity to bring together people from across the fisheries management spectrum and helps create networks for fishermen. “There was a really positive vibe that I wasn’t aware of”, says Glen. “I was introduced to lots of people not just fishermen, but fish producers and even some from Government bodies. There are a lot of people out there, and we all really want the same thing.” The fishing industry is a complex regulatory environment with lots of different organisations involved. It can be very difficult for fishermen, especially newcomers, to navigate this landscape.

The course aims to show how the whole of the fisheries management system operates, how decisions are made and where science feeds into the process. Pete explains, “The course is about developing people’s

“There was a really positive vibe – I was introduced to lots of people not just fishermen, but fish producers and even some from Government bodies. A key objective is to foster a new, more robust approach and understanding of the fishing industry.”

“Before the course, I had very little knowledge of any of the bodies involved in fisheries. There are so many bodies involved. Even when it came to getting my licence in the first place and getting the boat sorted. It can be a nightmare, especially for someone that steps in cold from the outside,” Glen added.


understanding of the industry, how it works and how all the pieces fit together because you can’t go about changing something if you don’t understand how it works.

FITF is a charity built and guided by fishermen, for fishermen. It was borne out of a strategic partnership between the Prince of Wales’ Charities International Sustainability Unit (ISU), Seafish, and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) in the USA. Fisherman and FITF trustee Pete Williams


FITF Executive Director, Jim Masters. Image courtesy Karrina Mather

The Introduction to Sustainable Fishing course, designed by FITF trustee fishermen, aims to give fishermen confidence to engage in fisheries management, as Pete explains, “It empowers people to feel that they can make changes within the industry, not just that they are destined to follow other people’s paths and routes. It’s creating innovators and leading lights within the industry. It empowers people to become more efficient, more effective, more productive and resilient managers of their own business and, hopefully, of the wider industry in the future.” The course brings fishermen, scientists and managers together to share knowledge and understanding of their common goals. “A key part of it is networking and interacting,” says Pete. “More often than not, fishermen and scientists actually have the same opinions, they want to conserve the stocks and they want a sustainable future for the industry. The course is about having all that understanding in one place, and getting everybody to understand each other’s points of view and role within the industry.” Scientists and managers from various organisations attended, not just to present, but also to learn. The course is also about educating scientist and managers of the realities of fishing and the difficulties of running a business. “More often than not, scientists and

managers don’t spend a lot of time on boats,” says Pete. “So equally they got a lot out of it because they saw our perspective and left with a better understanding of our job. It’s all about getting these people to actually speak to each other and understand each person’s point of view. There’s lots of benefit in fostering a more joined-up approach.”

“Investment in training in the fishing industry can produce significant returns, not only in shaping the future but regaining the confidence of fishermen in the decision-making process.”

The event in Devon was the second of its kind hosted in the UK by FITF and is modelled on the hugely successful Marine Resource Education Programme (MREP), from GMRI. Summing up the ethos behind MREP, programme leader Alexa Dayton said, “Investment in training in the fishing industry can produce significant returns, Business of Fishing not only in Location: Scotland, February 2019 shaping the future but Introduction to Sustainable Fishing regaining the Location: confidence To be announced of fishermen For more information about FITF and the in the courses they run visit their website: decision-making www.fishingintothefuture.co.uk process.”

Fishing into the Future upcoming courses



“These are the building blocks to a positive future, and no matter how the industry ends up being managed after Brexit, it can only be a good thing to encourage and empower people to work together” Investing in training and knowledge is vital in any industry and fishing is no exception, as Pete explains, “A lot of the people that came on the course were younger people. These are people that will be within the industry for a long period of time and having an understanding about how the industry works now equips them to be able to make changes that are better for the industry in the future.” “These are the building blocks to a positive future, and no matter how the industry ends up being managed after Brexit, it can only be a good thing to encourage and empower people to work together”, Pete went on to say. As the UK is on the verge of EU exit, collaboration is more important than ever in responding to challenges and tackling uncertainty. The FITF course offers fishermen an opportunity to develop skills which will enable them to engage in this important process. To help build positive working relationships, the course is run over three days with all the attendees staying together. Pete explained this residential aspect of the course is crucial. “It’s a more hands-on, a more engaged way of getting people talking and interacting and that goes on right the way through, not just during the day. In the evening there’s time to reflect and time to talk to different groups; it gets lots of different people chatting together that might not normally get a chance to talk,” says Pete. Jim Masters, Executive Director of FITF added, “The magic of these events happens when people relax away from the pressures of the fish quay, get to know each other and get stuck into discussions for an extended period of time. Good food and accommodation help this process. “Breaking bread” together is the glue that supports positive change. The relationships that are built are lasting, productive and contribute to a new way of working: collaboration between those involved at the sharp end of fisheries.” Building positive relationships between the fishing industry, scientists and managers is at the heart of the course. Chief Economist at Seafish and Trustee of FITF, Hazel Curtis, explains, “Effective co-management of fisheries requires industry, scientists and decision makers that understand each other’s points of view and area of expertise. It requires mutual understanding and respect between all parties. Spending down time together, as well as learning together, helps build connections and relationships that can really make a difference to the success of commercial fishing in the UK. I had fishermen contact me after both courses with enquiries that they would not have made if they did not feel they knew me well enough.”


Attendees at the Introduction to Sustainable Fishing course in Devon, 2018. Image courtesy of Harriet Yates-Smith, Mindfully Wired Communications


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The course is fully funded by FITF. Although attendees might lose fishing time, there is a lot to gain by joining the course. “The course gives fishermen the knowledge, understanding and language of fisheries science and management. The aim is to enable fishermen to become effective industry leaders and engage in fisheries co-management,” Hazel went on to say.

After the course in Devon, Glen decided to establish an informal group to represent rod and line fishermen who target mainly sea bass. “It was clear to me that sea bass fishermen had very little representation,” says Glen. “I thought I’d form a group, set up an unofficial body representing what we do, so I contacted MMO and CEFAS to get some figures on the number of licenced boats and landings and the group slowly started coming together.” The Commercial Rod and Line Sea Bass Fishermen’s Alliance is now about 20 strong and has a website and Facebook group. Although still in its infancy, the group is growing and Glen hopes that in the future it will help connect researchers with fishermen, serve as an information hub and help represent rod and line sea bass fishermen in the decision-making process. Glen explains, “The purpose was to create a platform for commercial fishermen that target sea bass with rod and line so that we can be recognised by scientists, buyers and the government.” More information on this group can be found here: www.seabassfishermen.co.uk

Building a positive future FITF hope to run the Introduction to Sustainable Fishing course again in autumn of 2019, and the Business of Fishing course will return to Scotland in February 2019. Jim Masters says, “We’d love a mix of fisheries and fishermen represented on the courses – but the Business of Fishing course is focused more on larger-scale fishing, and the Introduction to Sustainable Fishing course focuses on issues relevant to non-sector and inshore or smaller scale fishing.” Glen recommends the course to others, saying, “It’s a pretty exceptional course, and it was a pleasure to be there. I would encourage people to attend for sure, go for it and go with an open mind.” Fishermen face challenges every day, not just at sea but navigating the complex regulatory environment in which they operate. The FITF course gives anyone who participates a wider perspective allowing them to understand their own contribution to the industry and where science and politics feed into the decision making process. It helps fishermen to build networks of support from across the spectrum which is crucial in meeting the challenges that industry faces and building a positive future.



Keeping fishermen safe By Marta Moran Quintana

Wearing a PFD makes you up to eight times more likely to survive if you fall overboard. Unfortunately, many fishermen still do not wear them when working at sea. The 2018 ‘Work in Fishing Convention’ law will require ALL commercial fishermen to wear PFDs on deck.



Demonstrating PFD use

It’s July 2018 and Quay Issues travelled to Pwllhelli in North Wales to support the launch of a new safety initiative by the Welsh Fishing Safety Committee (WFSC). The WFSC, with the support of Seafish, has offered new Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) equipped with Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) to owners of active Welsh fishing boats. The WFSC is now distributing these life-saving PFDs with PLBs to fishermen in a series of events around the Welsh coast in collaboration with Seafish and the RNLI. This evening, around 30 skippers and crew from the Llŷn Peninsula gather to watch as Frankie Horner, Fishing Safety Manager at the RNLI, demonstrates on a volunteer how to use the PFDs. This is no ordinary evening for the WFSC. The Committee, formed of local fishermen’s associations across Wales, is determined to eliminate fishing-related deaths, with the distribution of these PFDs with PLBs being a key part of their strategy.

Greg Phillpot, chair of the WFSC, explains why this event is taking place, “The biggest killer of Welsh fishermen is falling overboard and not being recovered. That’s why we set up with this ambition to get the best possible flotation devices together with locator beacons.” Brett Garner, member of the WFSC and Llŷn Fisherman’s Association, knows these facts too well. “I have personally known four fishermen killed during fishing activities. Three of them could have survived had they been wearing a PFD,” he says.



Fishing safety 2007-2016

155 vessels lost

2,322 430 76 accidents reported

serious injuries

lives lost

Source: Marine Accident Investigation Branch, September 2017.

Sadly, the statistics agree with Greg and Brett: 139 fishermen drowned in UK waters between 2000 and 2015, and most of them were not wearing PFDs. In Wales alone, 12 fishermen lost their lives between 2006 and 2015.

He is also happy with how easy to wear they are, “I found that lifejackets hurt because it bends your head down, but this one is different, it sits on your shoulders so I think I’ll be alright.”

The nature of the Welsh fleet adds another level to the challenge: it is a small-scale fleet, largely made up of under 8 metre potting boats. Potting is one of the most hazardous types of fishing, and many of the reported man overboard accidents have happened after crew became entangled in ropes when shooting pots.

A potential downside to this equipment could be its price. The integrated PLB in these flotation devices make them more expensive than regular PFDs, costing over £350 in total. Recognising this issue, Seafish worked with the WFSC to secure funding from the Welsh Government and the Seafarers UK maritime charity on behalf of the Welsh fishing fleet. Thanks to their contributions, the WFSC was able to make these PFDs available to fishermen for just £15 (a 95% discount).

On top of that, many of the small Welsh boats are singlehanded, which adds an extra element of risk: no one else is around to help in case of an accident. The equipment being handed out by the WFSC serves a double purpose. Like any PFD, they keep a person afloat in case of a fall overboard, but they also have an integrated PLB, which is a type of GPS location device that alerts rescue authorities to the person’s location. One of the skippers attending the event tells us why this is especially important for him, “Sometimes we shift nights, and if my lad goes on one side… well, it’s pitch black. You’ve got no chance of finding him; he’s just a little ball on the water. This device is better [than our previous PFD]’.


This initiative means that Welsh fishermen can not only improve safety at work, but also stay ahead of the game when it comes to safety legislation. The implementation of the International Labour Organisation: Work in Fishing Convention (ILO 188) into UK law in 2018 will likely require all commercial fishermen to wear PFDs on deck while at sea unless a written risk assessment proves that they have eliminated the risk of going overboard. Furthermore, the use of PLBs (or an equivalent device) will also be required for small fishing boats by October 2019 under the Small Fishing Vessel Code of Practice (MSN 1871).


“When you’re hauling, when you’re shooting and handling gear at sea, you need to be wearing one of these. Because the minute you think ‘I’ll go and get it’, by then it’s too late.”

At the end of the demonstration in Pwllhelli, skippers and crew line up to collect their new PFDs fitted with integrated PLBs. Some stay on afterwards to ask Frankie and Seafish more questions or to try the PFDs on. The take up so far has been overwhelming. Since April 2018, over 280 Welsh fishing boat owners have applied for over 660 PFDs fitted with PLBs. That’s approximately 90% of the Welsh fishing fleet taking up this offer. Holly Whiteley, Wales Manager at Seafish, tells us that “The project has been a huge success. The high take up really demonstrates the vessel owners’ commitment to safety on board their vessels.”

Fishermen don’t have to die at sea, and safety equipment can play a big role in keeping them safe. The WFSC PFD distribution campaign is a perfect example of how fishermen can take the matter in their own hands. “The only way we can achieve our objective [of zero fishing-related deaths] is with these,” says Brett as he points to his brand-new PFD. “Simple as that.”

But simply distributing the PFDs is only the first step. The spotlight is now on fishermen to actually wear them while working at sea. Frankie was adamant on this when he showed the PFDs to the audience. “When you’re hauling, when you’re shooting and handling gear at sea, you need to be wearing one of these. Because the minute you think ‘I’ll go and get it’, by then it’s too late,” he says. After the event in Pwllhelli, Greg tells us he is hopeful. “We hope that fishermen see the sense in wearing these. We don’t want another incident off the Welsh coast where we lose another fisherman.”

Skippers signing up to receive their PFD with integrated PLB


Man-overboard ladders By Lewis Cowie On a cold Monday morning in early April 2018, the Quinn brothers, Michael Paul and John James, were setting their nets on Lough Neagh. Suddenly, they noticed something amiss with a pair of sand dredgers working on the Lough.

“It just looked unusual—it’s hard to say exactly what it was, but things just didn’t seem right”, says Michael.

“We went back to setting our nets, but a while later my brother said that he couldn’t see the second sand dredger anymore.” 32 QUAY ISSUES



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The pair decided to investigate, as Michael explains,


MOB ladder bag. Image courtesy of Alex Mcmullan


co a ge



“We were only three-quarters of a mile away so we decided to go over and have a look; it was just a gut feeling, really. When we arrived we found a man in the water shouting for help. The sand dredger had sunk, leaving him in the water... 33 QUAY ISSUES


...Fortunately, he was wearing a lifejacket, and we managed to get a hold of him by the side of our boat.” Wearing a PFD can help to keep a person afloat in the water, but getting back onto the boat is another matter, “When someone is in the water, they can’t help lift themselves—he was a dead weight” says Michael. The two brothers struggled against the cold, rough water to try and bring the man on board. “The sides of our boat are about three feet from the water and there were waves of two to three feet that day”, Michael says. “We just couldn’t get him aboard no matter how hard we tried. It was a scary situation.” With the aid of other fishermen, they managed to get hold of the man but were still unable to bring him out of the water. As Michael went on to explain, “Eventually we managed to get a rope under his arms and move our boat over to the remaining sand dredger. With six people helping, we still couldn’t get him out of the water.” Thankfully, the lifeboat arrived and rescued the man. “By the time the lifeboat arrived, he had been in the water for half an hour,” added Michael. “It was a cold day and the water temperature was only 4°C. That’s a long time to be in the water. This was an eye-opener for us. I’ve never felt anything like it. Without help it w ould have been near impossible for us to get him out of the water.”

“This incident showed us that we needed a rope ladder on the boat, big time. It’s so compact and easy to do, and this applies to all fishermen.”



Northern Ireland Fishing Safety Forum In summer 2018, the Northern Ireland Fishing Safety Forum (NIFSF) held a series of roadshow events in Northern Ireland, offering fishermen information on training opportunities, cold-water shock, and man-overboard recovery. At the events, a number of free man-overboard (MOB) ladder bags were distributed to fishermen, to raise awareness of how important it can be to have a means of getting casualties out of the water as soon as possible. RNLI Fishing Safety Manager Frankie Horne explains, “To survive any man-overboard situation, the casualty needs to get out of the water. Rapid extraction is vital. Fishermen need to have a rigged and ready MOB recovery solution.” The MOB ladder-bag initiative has been very successful and the bags are gaining real traction across the Northern Irish fishing industry. Fishermen have already installed MOB ladders on their boats in Ballycastle, Ballywater, Portavogie and Ardglass.

For more information on the NIFSF please contact Dr Lynn Gilmore at Lynn.Gilmore@seafish.co.uk or check out the NIFSF Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NIFSF Since its establishment, the NIFSF has been working hard to deliver positive change in safety culture in the Northern Irish fishing industry. The proportion of Northern Irish fishermen wearing lifejackets has increased since NIFSF members delivered 1,800 lifejackets to NI industry and already several lives have been saved. A survey of 96 fishermen in Northern Ireland by NIFSF in Spring 2018 found that 98% of respondents owned a lifejacket and that 93% of respondents wore their lifejacket all or most of the time when working at sea, particularly in bad weather.

Incidents like the one on Lough Neagh show how important it is for fishermen to think beyond staying safe on board their vessel. It is equally important to think about how to get out of the water as soon as possible in the event of a manoverboard situation. For only £30, a MOB ladder bag is a cost effective and vital piece of safety equipment for every boat. Following the terrifying incident on Lough Neagh, brothers Michael and John have installed a MOB ladder on their boat and hope that others will do the same. “I’ve been fishing on Lough Neagh for 50 years, but I’ve never experienced anything like that”, says Michael. “This incident showed us that we needed a rope ladder on the boat, big time. It’s so compact and easy to do, and this applies to all fishermen.”

Brothers, John James and Michael Quinn



Advanced Numerical Control Panel Operating System


ANCPOS Project Team. (Back row left to right) John Miskimmon, Kelvin McGreeghan, Cameron McKee, and Darren Anderson. (Front row left to right) Adrianne Brown, Duncan McIlroy, Jake Walker, Daniel McClements, and Jessica Killen. Not pictured: James Coffey

“Counting warp windings and operating winches manually puts crew members on the aft deck in an extremely dangerous position” says Duncan McIlroy, a retired MCA fishing vessel surveyor. “If it snaps, crew will be directly in the path of the recoiling warp.” Accidents involving snapped warps are amongst the most horrific in the fishing industry. Despite the dangers, accurately measuring warps is key to efficient net operation: release the wrong length and the trawl doors won’t spread the net properly. Duncan is part of a team in Northern Ireland developing computer technology to make the use of winches easier and safer for fishermen. Quay Issues caught went to Northern Ireland to find out more about the project. The Advanced Numerical Control Panel Operating System (ANCPOS) project is led by Daniel McClements, Cameron McKee, James Coffey and Jake Walker from Portavogie. Apprentices at Magellan Aerospace and students at the South Eastern Regional College, the team are all studying for their BTEC Level 3 in Manufacturing Engineering. From a fishing family himself, Daniel McClements told us how his experience of the fishing industry helped inspire the project. “Every summer I worked on my dad’s boat, MFV Golden Ray (B953), a twin-rig prawn trawler fishing in the Irish Sea. Working with the winches and measuring the cables as they leave the boat is one of the most dangerous roles on board.”



In the aerospace workshop, the team uses Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) milling machines, a machining process for making very precise cuts. The team realised they could apply computer numerical control to winch operation, as Daniel explains, “We took inspiration from the CNC machines we use at work. The type of technology used in these machines could be used to track the rotation of a winch and calculate the length of cable being used. This would allow the winch to be used remotely and cables measured more accurately.” The project team designed a device that could be used on fishing boats, as Daniel went on to say, “Our aim was to build a device that could be fitted to any fishing vessel winch to remotely monitor the length of cable that has been released or retrieved when fishing. This means that crew members won’t have to stand in a dangerous position to measure the cable. Instead, they will get readings on an electronic display.” College lecturers Kelvin McGreeghan, specialist in CNC milling, and Darren Anderson, an electrical engineer, also joined the team, providing advice and expertise from their specialist fields. In 2017, the team was awarded an enterprise award from their college. The college invited a team of mentors from the University of the Third Age (U3A), a volunteer-led organisation offering educational and leisure activities to people no longer in full-time work. Adrianne Brown, lead mentor and one of the enterprise-award judges, says, “I was extremely impressed with the quality of the work and the enthusiasm of the students. My family have a history of fishing, so it was a project I was very interested in.

We brought together a team of mentors, all very interested in the concept.” With experience in electrical engineering, business and marketing, the mentor team has brought a range of skills to the table. Student Cameron McKee says they have learned a lot from the experience and Jake Walker adds, “Meeting the mentors and learning from them has been a great experience.” The student engineers secured funding of £1,000 from the Northern Ireland Fishermen’s Safety Forum and the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation (NIFPO), which enabled them to build a prototype of the instrument. A key aim was to develop a device that could be retrofitted to any vessel winch. As the team’s lead tutor Kelvin McGreeghan explained, “We wanted to create something that any fisherman could fit easily to an existing winch, rather than having to replace the entire winch, which could cost the skipper tens of thousands of pounds.” In August 2018, the first sea trials of the device were carried out on board Daniel’s family boat, the twin-rigger Golden Ray. Fitted to one drum of a winch on board the vessel, the instrument monitored the warps on every tow over a fourday fishing trip.

Early results proved its success, but more trials are due and the team members want to guarantee the device has a long lifespan. Kelvin explains, “After sea trials, we will be back to the workshop, analysing data and making changes to the device to make it more functional. If the next sea trials are successful, we’ll turn our attention to making sure the device is durable enough to withstand the conditions on a fishing boat for years at a time!” Despite the challenges of creating a functional, durable and costeffective device, the developers remain focused on their goal. “Ultimately the team’s aim is to make fishing safer”, says Daniel. “Working with winches is always going to be a risky job; we want to do what we can to minimise these risks and hopefully make things safer for the fishermen who work in these situations every single day. There’s a lot of work to do, but we have a great team to help us!” The fishing industry is supported by a network of hard working innovators with a huge range of knowledge and expertise. The ANCPOS team show commitment to pooling skills from across generations and harnessing new technologies to help the fishing industry overcome the dangers they face every day.

Ancpos team fitting the device to vessel winch on board MFV Golden Ray.



The benefits of

semi-pelagic doors

Fuel is always a major cost for fishermen, particularly those operating towed gear. While fishermen can’t control the price of fuel, there are opportunities to reduce the amount used and the cost to the business. Here we look at innovative methods to reduce the drag of fishing gear and cut fuel consumption.



“In calm weather, between 80% and 90% of a fishing boat’s fuel consumption is used to overcome the drag of the fishing gear in the water,” says Mike Montgomerie, Fishing Gear Technologist at Seafish. “Think about how easy it is to manoeuvre around the harbour. Only 10-20% of the engine’s available power is actually required to move the boat forwards through the water.” Using thinner materials for warps, sweeps and the net itself can drastically reduce the twine surface area and weight of the trawl. But, there is another major source of drag, traditionally seen as unavoidable: trawl doors touching the seabed. When set up correctly, the effective weight of the trawl being towed is reduced to only 20-25% of its weight on land. But, at several hundred kilogrammes, doors still create a significant amount of drag when trawled along the seabed, burning a lot of fuel while towing. Some trawl fishermen have borrowed techniques from other types of fishing to reduce fuel consumption by lifting the trawl doors off the seabed but keeping the ground gear in contact with the seabed to maintain their catch of bottom-dwelling fish and shellfish. These are known as semi-pelagic trawl doors. Mike Montgomerie, Seafish Gear Technologist

Semi-pelagic doors can be smaller and lighter than their traditional counterparts but still open the net mouth in the same way. “Semi-pelagic trawl doors have a greater aspect ratio than traditional demersal doors; this means they are taller and thinner than the square or oval shaped doors often used by UK trawlers,” says Mike. “This different shape means the doors are able to work effectively when in contact with the seabed or when lifted off the seabed.” “Hydrodynamic steel foils are used to help stabilise the doors when they are not touching the bottom meaning that they stay upright even without the support of the sea floor,” Mike went on to explain. Generally, semi-pelagic doors are more hydrodynamically efficient than traditional demersal doors because their shape allows them to generate more spreading force in the water. As a result, semi-pelagic doors can be smaller and lighter than their traditional counterparts but still open the net mouth in the same way. This technique has been effectively used by Alaskan pollack fishermen in North America and shrimp fishermen in Greenland. Some fishermen in Northern Ireland have, for many years, been using semi-pelagic trawling, with pelagic trawls and doors, but rigged so that the gear skims the seabed to target cod and haddock. In addition to the financial benefits of reduced fuel consumption, there are associated environmental benefits such as reduced impact on the seabed and reduced CO2 emissions. Despite these benefits, many have been reluctant to fish with trawl doors off the seabed due to the belief that the action of the doors on the seabed helps herd fish into the trawl mouth.



Fuel consumption: To overcome this reluctance, researchers in Denmark, working on North Sea fishing boats, have trialled alternative trawl setups and shown that catches can be maintained even with trawl doors off the sea bed. Adding weights to the sweeps of semi-pelagic doors creates the herding effect of trawl doors but with less drag. When using semi-pelagic doors to target bottom-dwelling species such as cod and haddock, there is a fine line between effective fishing and losing bottom contact with the net, leading to lost fish. Modern acoustic sensors on some boats are used to give the skipper accurate information on where and how the gear is fishing. Specific sensors tell a skipper exactly how high off the seabed the gear is, as well as the angle and pitch of the doors. This means that the skipper can adjust the gear with a greater level of accuracy than if he is fishing blind, and ensures he gets the most effective use of the gear at all times. In 2013, researchers from SINTEF in Denmark conducted trials in the North Sea. The aim was to help Danish fishermen reduce fuel consumption by entirely eliminating seabed contact of their trawl doors. To compensate for the lifted doors, the team added in-line chain weights to the sweeps to keep the gear itself on the seabed. The fishermen involved in the trials adjusted their gear warps so the chain weights touched the seabed, but the doors were “flying� between three and five metres from the seabed. The weights were placed behind the trawl doors at 45 metres from the wingtips of the trawl; this meant that the sweeps continued to herd fish into the mouth of the net despite the doors being off the seabed. The trial team found that this method of trawling used 15% less fuel than the same trawls using traditional doors on the seabed. Interestingly, these figures match the fuel savings predicted by manufacturers after trialling semi-pelagic doors in the Hirtshals flume tank in Denmark. For many fishermen working with towed gears, the idea of fishing with their trawl doors off the seabed may seem like a significant departure from their usual methods. But, faced with high fuel prices and mounting pressure to minimise the environmental impact of fishing, UK trawl fishermen are taking inspiration from fishermen further afield to see what tools and techniques could be applied to their fishing. Semi-pelagic doors are just one example of technology being adapted to suit another sector of the fishing industry but this type of innovation is something we may see more of as the UK sector continues to evolve. More information on a wide range of commercial fishing gears, including selectivity devices and methods of improving fishing efficiency, are available on the Seafish Gear Database.



Average fuel price per litre. Average annual price per litre increased from 34p per litre in 2016 to 42p per litre in 2017.


Fuel costs as a percentage of fishing income in 2017. An increase of 2% from a 2016 low.

The benefits of Semi-pelagic doors:



In addition, there are associated environmental benefits; such as reduced impact on the seabed and reduced CO2 emissions.

READ MORE More information commercial fishing gears, and methods of improving fishing efficiency available on the Seafish Gear Database


Flume Tank Testing – Semi-Pelagic Doors

Cost structure of the UK fishing fleet (as % of total costs) 1 0.9

Million pounds (nominal)

0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5

One of the core functions of the SINTEF flume tank in Hirtshals is commercial testing of trawls and trawl doors.

0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 2008 2009 2010

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016


Vessel expenses


Other fishing expenses


The tank allows designers to see how their trawl doors will behave underwater. Engineers create highly accurate scale models of the doors which are fitted to model nets and monitored in the tank.

Evolution of Brent crude price 120

ÂŁ per barrel


112 97




Most available selectivity devices and new developments have had a round in the flume tank before they go to sea for final testing, including semi-pelagic trawl doors.



These tests allow door manufacturers to test the hydrodynamics, spreading force and drag of their trawl door prototypes and make adjustments before undergoing more expensive and time-consuming sea trials with full-size gear. For more information on the Trawl Gear Technology training courses at the flume tank please contact: mike.montgomerie@seafish.co.uk or your local Producer Organisation office.

40 20 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

Testing gear in the SINTEF flume tank.

Fuel costs as a % of fishing income

UK fleet average

25% 23%



15% 15% 10%

12% 10%

5% 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017





Optimising Marine Routes

TOPAME is a mobile app that helps improve fuel efficiency of fishing boats by calculating the optimal route to destination. The app helps reduce fuel consumption, saves travel time and reduces pollutant emissions. TOPAME co-founder Tiago Sa is from a Portuguese fishing family. Dinner table discussions on the cost of fuel gave him the idea of developing a solution to help reduce fuel costs for fishermen. Joined by co-founders Paulo Silva and Tiago Fernandes, they set out to develop TOPAME. The TOPAME app uses data on local oceanographic conditions (waves, wind and tides) and GPS location data to calculate the most efficient route to the desired coordinates. Oceanographic data is updated online daily and includes a 3-day forecast so the app can be used in offline mode for up to three days. The TOPAME app was trialled on the Portuguese trawler Cruz de Malta over several trips in a two week period. The trials showed a fuel savings of 5% and a reduction in travel time of 8% compared to previous trips without the app. This earned positive feedback from the skipper and boat owner. Currently TOPAME is available in Portugal only. Following trials, the developers plan to continue its implementation in the Portuguese fishing industry and to develop the app for use in south Atlantic waters. The success of the TOPAME app for the Portuguese industry shows that there is demand for such technology. There is likely also scope and opportunity for something similar for UK waters. www.topame.pt




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Quay Issues - Volume 5  

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