Quay Issues - Volume 6

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Volume 6 | 2020


No Stranger to Innovation A successful American businessman and management thinker once said that “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” No such claim could be made about the UK fishing industry. This edition of Quay Issues is evidence to the contrary. Our latest magazine shines a light on some of the innovations and research that are helping drive the industry forward, tackling many of the key challenges facing us in times of accelerated change. After reading the articles that follow I am sure you will share my admiration for the ground-breaking initiatives and projects featured. The passion of the people involved is all too plain to see. In many cases a lifetime of experience and commitment to fishing; in other cases newer kids on the block following in the footsteps of those who have gone before. Our stories are drawn from the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and underline the diversity of our domestic fisheries and why local action with tailored solutions are so important – there can be no such thing as a one size fits all approach to fishing in these waters.

Much is made about the history of the UK fishing industry and there is frequent hand-wringing about the loss of opportunity, the loss of jobs, the challenges faced in our rural coastal communities. And yet the featured stories in Quay Issues reveal an entrepreneurial spirit and energy that should give all of us hope and optimism that a bright future is indeed attainable. Anyone reading about the potential regeneration of East Anglian fisheries cannot fail to warm to the cause of this innovative project – potentially a blueprint for other coastal communities too. Our articles on de-carbonisation and gear recycling strike right at the heart of the ever-strengthening demand for commercial activities to lead by example in reducing their impact on the environment. Meanwhile, innovative selectivity measures in the Orkney Islands are adding so much more value than simply helping fishermen comply with shellfish Minimum Landing Sizes. And to wrap up this edition I thoroughly enjoyed reading the features and learning all about the unsung army providing vital support yet hidden from view. And just wait until you meet Barry Brunton a UK fishing stalwart taking the internet by storm with his YouTube channel and Facebook pages!!

Marcus Coleman Chief Executive Officer, Seafish

In this edition…



A Fisheries REAFitalisation

06 Waste Not, Want Not: The costs and benefits of end of life fishing gear



Natural Selection


Carbon-Free Future?

26 Taking Action Now: Improving fuel efficiency



The Unsung Army


One Man and His Boat

40 Beyond the Big 5: Why there’s money in less popular fish 45




We want to hear from you…





A Fisheries REAFitalisation By Ana Witteveen

Hundreds of masts tower into the sky. In Lowestoft harbour, countless wooden sail-powered drifters are packed in like sardines. The year is 1913 and the East Anglian fishing industry is in the midst of a herring bonanza in the southern North Sea. Herring lasses are lined up in the crisp autumn air, hands wrapped in binding to protect them from the salt, brine and sharp knives as they gut, pickle and pack cran after cran of freshly caught herring. Since 1913, the best herring year on record in East Anglia, the face of the fishing industry has changed considerably. World wars, changing markets, policy, politics and perhaps most notably, technology have led the industry to evolve. In July 2019, Quay Issues travelled to Lowestoft to find out how a local group is working to support and improve the East Anglian seafood industry through the Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries (REAF) project. The REAF Steering Group is made


up of members of the regional industry, Suffolk and Norfolk County Council members, New Anglian Local Enterprise and supported by Seafish. The REAF project region covers 30 ports and 14 seafood processors. These days the fleet is made up of fewer, smaller, more efficient vessels with local fishermen mainly operating inshore targeting mostly shellfish species. In 2018, the top species landed by quantity and value were cockles, brown shrimps and whelks.

Despite the changing face of the industry over the last hundred years, a strong tradition of fishing remains in East Anglia. And as the industry continues to evolve, seafood businesses face new and different challenges and opportunities.


“That’s what’s really unique about this project. It considers all aspects of the regional seafood supply chain, everything from sea to plate,” explains Peter Aldous MP. As a targeted regional initiative, collaboration and local buy-in are critical to REAF’s success. Getting the local councils on board is a big part of this. “Local councils have a very real stake in the health of the local seafood economy, as does industry,” explains Rodney Anderson, advisor to REAF. REAF steering group (image courtesy of John Worral, Fishing News)

Keen to keep the fishing tradition alive, a passionate group of local leaders with a shared vision came together to develop a regional strategy specific to the seafood industry. “About five years ago we started talking to our MP and the local councils about it and in early 2018 we launched REAF,” explains Paul Lines, a local fisherman and one of the group’s founders. “We know there is huge potential for the industry, it just needs someone to fight for it.”

Happily for REAF, there has been a groundswell of enthusiasm from the local councils in support of the project.

REAF recognises that to ensure sustainable growth and development across the whole regional industry, you have to look beyond the quayside. As a result, REAF is engaging with stakeholders all along the supply chain to develop their strategy.



With local government and industry on board, REAF identified three key questions: Where is the industry now, what is our vision for the future and what can we do to get there? “We need to know the size of the prize and then develop a strategy of how to get it,” explains Paul. To answer these questions the REAF group commissioned research and developed a set of recommendations to shape their strategy. The 11 recommendations cover economic, environmental and regulatory themes and is a living document that sets out a range of practical recommendations for reshaping the East Anglian industry. The REAF Steering Group have prepared a detailed action plan and are now busy progressing the project.

In a region so heavily steeped in the fishing tradition, it’s no wonder this group has come together behind the REAF project. Local fishermen are keen to see a future for fishing in the region.


Fishing boat on Aldeburgh beach

“I’ve been fishing for 35 years and I want young people to be able to come in now and fish for their 35 years,” says Melvin Robinson, skipper of the Four Daughters, a 10m boat operating out of Lowestoft. Paul adds: “I came to Lowestoft in 1974 at age 15, like Peter Pan! I want to be able to look back at the success of REAF and say ‘We did that. We did that for the industry'." Though the herring lasses are destined to remain in the history books, the East Anglian fishing industry has stories yet to tell. The REAF strategy is the first step on this revitalisation journey. It’s an example of local people coming together to find local solutions. “It’s the first project of its kind in the UK,” concludes Peter, “and if we get it right it could become a model for other regions to follow.”


East Anglia Seafood Supply Chain – Community Links

Wild Stocks


Port’s Onshore Infrastructure


People’s Jobs


Economic Value

Processing Transport

Transport Retail

Foodservice Community Partners

Local Councils

Local Enterprise Partnership (England) Regional Economic Partnership (Scotland) Regional Skills Partnership (Wales) Local Enterprise Agency (N. Ireland)

Local Politicians



Waste Not, Want Not The costs and benefits of end of life fishing gear By Kirsten Milliken The sea is a hostile place and can take its toll on fishing gear. When fishing gear reaches the end of its useable lifespan, it needs to be replaced so that fishermen can continue catching effectively. Most end-of-life fishing gear is disposed of in landfill, but does it have a value and is landfill the most cost-effective solution?



“There’s a cost burden on harbour authorities for disposing of end-of-life fishing gear in landfill,” says Gus Caslake, “and that cost is reflected in the price fishermen pay for harbour dues.” Gus, Seafish Regional Manager for South West England, has recently completed an assessment comparing the costs of recycling fishing gear compared to landfill. Fishing gear can be made from many different materials. Most gillnets are made from nylon, whereas most trawls are made from polyethylene. “Nylon is very versatile Gus Caslake, SW England and relatively easy to Regional Manager, Seafish recycle so it can have a high scrap value,” says Gus. “Polyethylene, on the other hand is not as widely recycled so the cost of sending it to a recycling centre can be greater.” That’s not to say that polyethylene can’t or shouldn’t be recycled. Several initiatives around the world recycle polyethylene from end of life fishing gear into sunglasses, surfboards and more.

The Benefits of a Circular Economy Linear Economy

Recycling Economy

Rob Thompson told Cornwall Live, “The original idea was to prove that waste plastic has a value and can again be turned into another product and reused. I wanted people to see it in context.” Rob’s company Odyssey Innovation offers net recycling solutions. With support from Seafish and Morrisons, Rob has established a network of collection points in the South West for depositing end-of-life fishing gear. He then arranges for a lorry to take the deposited nets to their recycling partner Plastix in Denmark who specialise in recycling end-of-life fishing gear. Plastix pay Rob for the materials and believe that “the scarcity of resources means that waste is increasingly becoming a source of income rather than just a nuisance.” Rob’s model pays for itself. The recycling centre views the polyethylene as a valuable material, not a waste product that needs to be disposed of. Rob is paid for the material, which covers the cost of transport, and he even gets some of the end product returned to him which his company makes into kayaks. This is the goal in a circular economy: for materials to be recycled and remain in use when an item's usable lifespan ends. Circular Economy



But most fishing gear is made up of much more than just polyethylene. “Take an average beam trawl,” says Gus, “it might weigh about 1,800kg in total but the amount of polyethylene that can be recycled only makes up a fraction of that, say about 300kg.”

A single beam trawl is made of several different materials including steel, rubber, polyethylene and nylon. When recycling fishing gear, all of these materials have to be separated properly and sent to the right recycling facilities. Separating the materials is a difficult but vital step. If harbour authorities send materials for recycling that haven’t been properly separated they’re just shifting the problem to someone else.

So how much potential income is there in end-of-life fishing gear? Would it be cheaper for harbour authorities to recycle it instead of sending it to landfill? That’s what Gus hopes to find out.

“It could take a net maker 10 to 12 hours to put a trawl together and maybe five or six to take it apart,” says Gus. “It’s a very intensive process, steel and saltwater don’t go together well so it can be badly rusted and the net can be very worn and full of sand from being towed along the seabed.”

“We looked at an average beam trawl,” says Gus. “We measured the weight of each of the component parts to calculate how much of each material makes up the gear. We then looked at how much it costs to recycle the materials and compared it to the cost of disposing of the gear in landfill.”

Beam Trawl Components (12m beam trawl)

Fishing line:

Rubber, plastic coated steel wire, high-density polyethylene plastic and steel bulldog clips

Chain mat: Steel chain Headline: Steel wire and polypropylene rope

Footrope: Rubber, plastic coated steel wire, steel shackles, steel chain and steel bulldog clips.


Netting: Polyethylene netting Flip ups: High density polyethylene combination and polypropylene rope


The cost of recycling depends on how easy it is to repurpose the material, the market for the end product and the distance to recycling facilities. “For each harbour the cost of recycling end-of-life gear will be different,” says Gus. “Harbour authorities will need to make a value judgement, case by case, to decide if it’s cheaper sending some or all of the materials for recycling or continue with landfill.” Gus found that the cost of recycling a 12m beam trawl (excluding chain mat) is about £235. In 2018, the UK Government announced a new Resource and Waste Strategy outlining changes to the way the UK deals with plastic waste. The strategy aims to “preserve material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy.”

Cost and income of recycling a 12m beam trawl – no chain mat Footrope (18 metres) Fishing line (4 inch Disc Plastic pipe) Flip ups Netting Headline


Labour cost/collection



Key to the success of this strategy is a change in perspective. Manufacturers and the general public need to rethink waste and start viewing it as a valuable resource.

Over time, as the value of ‘waste’ increases the cost of recycling will go down. “Personally my hope is that in the future 100% of fishing gear will be recycled,” says Gus. “Right now that might not be cost-effective for all harbour authorities, but I certainly believe that in the short term most of them can at least reduce the cost burden from landfill and pass the cost saving to the fishermen paying harbour dues.” For more information contact: Richard.Caslake@seafish.co.uk

Weight (kg)

Labour cost/ collection

Recycling/disposal cost (£120/t)

Income (£100/t)

459 61 144 257 17 938

£66.00 £66.00 £45.00 £40.00

£36.72 £0.00 £5.27 £0.00 £0.20 £42.19

£15.30 £0.00 £8.04 £0.00 £0.00 £23.34


Recycling/disposal cost


) –




Total cost




Waste Management Initiative The 2019 Single-Use Plastics Directive introduces measures to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products, and promote the transition to a circular economy, which keeps resources in use for as long as possible. The Directive takes an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach, which means that manufacturers of plastic fishing gear will be required to cover the costs of waste collection at and transport from ports and subsequent treatment, as well as measures to raise awareness.

Seafish identified a need to get clarity around current practice so it brought in intern Ben Smith to work with its Responsible Sourcing team over summer 2019. He carried out a survey of UK fishing net manufacturers to assess business awareness and preparedness for an EPR scheme. A survey was also carried out with Port Authorities to help Seafish understand the main waste management routes being used and the current challenges in recycling end-of-life fishing gears. Ben also conducted research and carried out a series of site visits to inform a set of good practice case studies. These case studies are available from the Seafish website and will used to help to inform future work in this area on behalf of the UK seafood supply chain. For more information contact: Lewis.Tattersall@seafish.co.uk

Waste Not, Want Not: Cutting Edge While financial factors will always be important to any business, there is an increasing trend and expectation for businesses to adopt a triple bottom line approach, where social and environmental performance indicators are considered alongside economic ones. Cutting Edge investigates how processing businesses can improve resource efficiency, benefiting people, planet and profit. Cutting Edge looks at the creative and innovative approaches seafood processing businesses across the UK are taking to address and overcome the challenges facing the sector and improve their business for the future. To claim your free copy visit Seafish.org or write to cuttingedge@seafish.co.uk

cutting edge


Welcome to the Craft Revolution Also in this issue‌ 04 11 21 37

Expanding Markets Waste Not, Want Not Festival Atmosphere A Leading Role

How lessons from craft success stories can be applied to the UK seafood industry

Issue 01 | 2019 A



Natural Selection By Marta Moran Quintana

Sorting the catch from creels can be a time-consuming task, with much effort involved in removing undersized individuals and unwanted species. Could a new type of escape gap trialled in Orkney help fishermen reduce sorting times?



Although the town is busy with tourists, Kirkwall harbour is quiet on this July afternoon. The passenger ferry has just left, most fishing boats are out and at his store on the pier Sean Dennison, skipper of the Queline K1138, is busy fitting new escape gaps in his creels.

Orkney provides some of the best shellfish grounds in the UK thanks to its strong tidal currents and rocky seabed. Shellfishing has a long history here: in the late 18th century over 100,000 Orkney lobsters were being shipped to London annually. Then in the 1960s crab fishing developed. Today crabs are the main species landed in the islands with over 2,550 tonnes of brown, velvet and green crab landed in 2018. Orkney Fishermen’s Society, located in Stromness, is one of the UK’s biggest crab processors.

The gaps he’s fitting are not the round black ones we see in other creels in the harbour. These are white plastic panels with two rectangular openings, one labelled ‘Green’, the other ‘Velvet’. “We are now using these in all our creels,” Sean explains. “They save us a heck of a lot of time.”

Sean Dennison

Top five species (by value) landed in Orkney in 2018 Lobsters 78 tonnes £1,216,583

Scallops 360 tonnes £968,183 Brown Crabs 2,275 tonnes £5,038,642

Velvet Crabs 234 tonnes £907,817

Whelks 296 tonnes £342,372

Seasonality of landings into Orkney (tonnes per month) in 2018: Jan












Brown Crabs







































Velvet Crabs


























Velvet Crab

Minimum Landing Sizes (mm)





Brown Crab









Shellfishing in Orkney is a mixed and seasonal activity. Over the course of a year, an Orkney fisherman can target velvet crabs, green crabs, brown crabs and lobsters, as well as scallops, whelks and prawns. Just like their counterparts in the rest of the world, Orkney fishermen are working on improving the sustainability of their activities. Based in Kirkwall, Orkney Fisheries Association (OFA) channels some of these fisheries research efforts.

“All the research we commission here has been initiated by fishermen,” Fiona Matheson, OFA secretary, tells us. “When they ask a question, we are here to try to answer it.” It was after requests from fishermen that OFA commissioned a Green Development Strategy Project. The project, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), investigated several options to improve the sustainability record of the Orkney fishing fleet. The topics addressed as part of the project included promoting a better understanding of the seasonality of fishing activities and reducing the carbon footprint of the creel fleet. A third area of research was the development of multi-species escape gaps for creels.

Fiona Matheson, Secretary, Orkney Fisheries Association


The concept of an escape gap is simple: you leave an opening in the creel to allow undersized shellfish and non-target species to escape. Undersized individuals hauled in creels are normally returned to sea when sorting

the catch but they can become stressed and damaged in the process, which reduces their survivability. Escape gaps allow them to leave the creel before it’s hauled, preventing the damage and leaving them free to continue growing. When they leave the creel they also free up space for more legal sized shellfish. Escape gaps are not a new thing: they were used for the first time in American lobster fishing in 1958. They are compulsory now in several parts of the world, including some US states and Sweden, when fishing for lobsters. In England some Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) require escape gaps in pots set in their management areas. In Scotland, the West Coast Inshore Fisheries Group trialled the use of escape gaps in creels as a voluntary initiative in 2015.


Creels with escape gaps (credit OFA)

For fishermen, less undersized shellfish or bycatch in creels means less time sorting the catch. Effectively the crabs do most of the sorting work because the undersized ones let themselves out. Escape gaps can also reduce ghost fishing if the creel is lost at sea. Escape gaps are normally species specific, based on the minimum landing size of the target species. With Orkney fishermen targeting different species over the year this poses a problem. Fitting new gaps in the creel depending on the season requires extra effort, while using a second set of creels with different gaps increases costs. With Orkney fishermen in need of a flexible solution the idea of a multi-species escape panel began to take shape. Cara Duncan, former researcher at OFA, came up with two different designs for a multi-species escape panel. To arrive at these designs she did preliminary trials and numerous measurements of the main species targeted by Orkney fishermen.

The first design was a single panel with four escape gaps of different sizes for lobsters, brown crab, velvet crab and green crab. The panel is attached to the creel and fishermen can choose what gaps they need to remain open each season, temporarily closing the other ones with wire. The second design or ‘swivel design’ consisted of a set of panels, each with one gap size, stacked and held together by a hinge. Once the appropriate gap size is chosen, the panels that are not needed are secured to the side of the creel. The next step was to trial the panels at sea. Sean volunteered to help test the panels on board the Queline during the velvet crab season while Cara did everything possible to make sure the trials went smoothly.

“He’s always been interested in the science so he wanted to help. We made sure he didn’t have to change his fishing times or areas for the trial and I assisted fitting the escape gaps in the creels,” Cara told us. A few other fishermen trialled the gaps on an informal basis for other species. The trials involved testing both designs of escape gaps to see how well they worked at sea. In addition, Cara measured the time required to sort the catch, comparing between closed creels, creels with panel gaps and creels with swivel gaps. Creels with and without escape gaps caught a very similar number of legal sized crabs but sorting the catch from creels with escape gaps was faster. Closed creels retained more crabs but most of them were undersized, thus taking longer to sort.



Escape gaps detail

Less sorting time has many benefits for fishermen, as Sean told us. “On a daily basis we haul around 500 creels. You save some minutes on each creel, but when you add them all up, you could possibly have an extra couple of ropes in that time.” There can be safety benefits, as well. “If you work on a tidal area, your time constraints are much greater. Often you have a limited time there, so the faster you can be the better,” says Sean. From a functional perspective, the panel escape gaps proved more useful. Fewer moving parts meant they were easier to fit and cheaper to produce. Some of the fishermen who tried the swivel panels also reported the hinge was not strong enough to withstand conditions at sea.


Following the trials, OFA plan to continue to explore the possibilities of multi-species escape gaps. The next steps will depend on the funding available, but there is interest in investigating how to make the panels easier to use and trialling alternative gap sizes and shapes.

Fiona says that the project has helped to bring sustainability into the conversation. “Most fishermen have been positive about the trials and the results. It has helped us open new discussions about how best to avoid catching undersize shellfish.”

Back at Kirkwall pier, Sean is getting ready for the next velvet crab season. It could be an interesting one, he thinks. “This year has been warm, so we are already starting to see huge volumes of small crab in the ground.” The new panel gaps have come just in time for Sean. Once installed, he is confident it will be faster – and easier – to sort the catch this year. Sometimes it’s small things that can make a big difference! For more information visit: www.orkneyfisheries.com


Results from sea trials of creels with escape gaps in Orkney

No escape gaps Creels trialled: 28

Panel escape gaps Creels trialled: 29

Swivel escape gaps Creels trialled: 27

Sorting time per creel:





8.8 minutes

Number of crabs:

Caught: 283 Discarded: 194 Kept: 89

Caught: 162 Discarded: 63 Kept: 99

Caught: 163 Discarded: 62 Kept: 101

Percentage of crabs discarded:



38% 17

Source: Orkney Fisheries Association



Carbon-Free Future? By Kelly Beatson

Fully electric boats first saw a boom much earlier than you might think. Well over 100 years ago, when the only other power option was steam, electric battery powered motors were in their first stages of invention. By 1890 electric boat activity was on the rise with small, fully electric, non-tidal passenger boats being very popular. Most of the large boat-builders on the Thames had experience in building, fitting and hiring out electric boats.

Spes Nova UK-205, image courtesy of www.damen.com


Around the same time internal combustion technologies were also making a breakthrough. In the subsequent decades, the development of more powerful oil engines, ease of refuelling and the technological push of WW1 meant oil-fuelled engines soon took over as the drivers of choice.

The UK’s future looks set for decarbonisation, what part can the fishing industry play in helping the UK meet these goals?


Environmental Awareness The theory behind the greenhouse effect goes back as far as 1824. Later, in 1896 a Swedish scientist came about the idea that the burning fossil fuels may cause global warming by increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

All vessels, including fishing, are currently regulated by MARPOL 73/78 Protocol of 1997 (Annex VI) – Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships.

It took a while for the evidence to build, but by the 1980s the consensus was beginning to form, leading the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1998.

Since then, emission reduction technologies have become an active area of research and many regions around the world have implemented increasingly stringent emissions standards.

Chart reproduced courtesy of Climate Central: www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/ co2-and-rising-global-temperatures



Decarbonisation: Emission-Free Future Decarbonisation of ships is already in the pipeline. In July 2019 the UK published its Clean maritime plan, making it one of the first countries to publish a national action plan. The plan is described as the UK’s route map to clean growth for the maritime sector and pathway to zero-emission shipping. In 2018 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a strategy to reduce CO2 emissions across international shipping by at least 40% by 2030, and 70% by 2050, compared to 2008.

Although initially it appears to be focused on shipping, the UK government’s Clean maritime plan also states that “By 2025 we expect that all vessels operating in UK waters are maximising the use of energy efficiency options. All new vessels being ordered for use in UK waters are being designed with zero emission propulsion capability.”

For many years maritime industries have been left out of much of the debate about global emissions. With interest in shipping now increasing it’s looking likely that the decarbonisation spotlight will soon be shining on fishing boats too. Here we look at innovations from across marine industries which may help to reduce emissions from fishing.

The average lifespan of a fishing boat is 25 to 30 years. To future proof purchases anyone thinking of acquiring a new boat soon would be sensible to consider the implications of future carbon strategies on the fishing industry.

The UK Clean maritime plan sets targets for reducing emissions from all maritime industries



Electric Vessels There may be options to completely eliminate the need for fuel oil from fishing boats. In 2015 the Karoline, one of the world’s first hybrid electric fishing vessels was revealed in Norway. The Karoline hosts a Corvus lithium polymer Energy Storage System (ESS) integrated with Siemens BlueDrive PlusC marine propulsion system. The Karoline’s 30 lithium polymer batteries are charged overnight by plugging into the port’s power supply. This provides enough power so that the 11m vessel can run for 10 hours on the battery alone. The Karoline also features a back-up diesel generator for emergencies or higher power activities.

Energy storage systems such as that on board the Karoline can lead to fuel savings of around 25%. This, whilst simultaneously reducing emissions by 25 to 40%, makes energy storage systems an investment for the future. Since then, the larger 31m Dutch twin-rig MDV-1 Immanuel was developed showing that hybrid technology is being utilised in a

range of fishing vessel types. A similar 31m combination twin-rig trawler/fly-shooter Spes Nova UK-205, built at Damen Maaskant Shipyards in the Netherlands, went through North Sea fishing trials in October 2019. There are further benefits to the electric or hybrid systems other than fuel savings and lower emissions. Electric systems use up less space on board, freeing up space for more catch. They are also much quieter and produce far less vibration creating a more pleasant working environment and reducing marine noise pollution. But switching to electric would mean skippers have to learn a new set of skills. Macduff Ship Design offers a full range of naval architecture, marine consultancy and design services to owners and shipyards. While discussing vessel advancements Ian Ellis, Managing Director at Macduff, mentioned that skippers often end up doing a lot of the vessel maintenance but might not be familiar with electric engines. “They’re very comfortable servicing and repairing their diesel engines and any changes to engine design would require a very steep learning curve that may not seem as feasible for vessels that don’t have a designated engineer.”

Naming ceremony of Spes Nova UK-205, image courtesy of www.damen.com



Diesel Electric Hybrid Vessels Since the diesel electric retrofit of the Queen Elizabeth II in 1988, electric propulsion has seen a marked rise in both technologies and in uptake across various marine sectors. With the aim of reducing emissions and noise pollution, Norway retrofitted their first diesel electric hybrid ferry Ampere in 2015. Other similarly converted diesel electric ferries have since appeared in Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Of course, the electricity source also needs to be low or zero carbon to have an effect on emissions.

Currently, renewables make up about 40% of total UK electricity production. This is much lower than the Scandinavian nations, especially Norway who produce so much that they also export it.

Ampere’s conversion was considered a massive success with 95% reduction in CO2 and 80% reduction in operating costs. Unsurprisingly, the potential cost savings are attracting a lot of orders, not just for the conversion of existing diesel-powered ferries but also for new electric ferries. Fjord1, a major Norwegian transport conglomerate which operates 75 ships, has placed an order with the Havyard Group to build a fleet of battery-electric ferries. Whilst existing electric ferries tend to be conversions, these new vessels are built to be electric.

Solar panels and wind turbines are common on sailing boats and could be scaled up to suit some fishing boats



Alternative Fuels Alternative fuels include any fuel type other than conventional fossil-fuels and they can include bio-diesel or bio-alcohol, gases like hydrogen or ammonia, even compressed air. A 2006 Australian Government report suggested that biodiesel and pure vegetable oil were the most promising alternative fuels for the fishing industry given the existing infrastructure, available space on fishing boats and safety considerations. So far, the major sources of biofuels are plant-based sugars and oils. It is technically possible to produce marine biofuels that are compatible with the existing marine engines, pipelines and bunker infrastructure and it is also possible to blend sustainable biofuels with other ship fuels, reducing total emissions. In 2006, Grimsby-based trawler Jubilee Quest was adapted for a trial comparing diesel with vegetable oil. The result was 80% carbon mitigation without compromising pulling power.

Vegetable oil hasn’t had commercial success in the fishing industry because despite lower emission there’s no cost saving to be made by switching and converting the engine can be costly.

Hydrogen as a fuel source emits zero CO2, zero sulphur dioxide and only negligible nitrogen oxide. However its use as a replacement for traditional diesel fuel still requires research and development and there are still safety issues associated with storing hydrogen. Ammonia emits similarly negligible emissions and it has already been used successfully in land-based installations such as buses. When used as a duel fuel option with diesel it can yield promising CO2 reductions. Compared to hydrogen, ammonia does not require high pressure, low temperature storage and is a widely traded commodity being predominately used as a fertiliser. All in all, this makes ammonia a very competitive option. One main barrier to alternative fuels for the fishing industry is bunkering and the availability of fuels, particularly in smaller harbours and more remote regions around the coast. Changing fuels is not something vessel owners can realistically consider until suitable fuelling infrastructure is in place. On the other hand, in order to persuade harbours and ports to introduce these facilities the demand from vessels may need to arise first. However, ports and harbours may be reluctant to invest in suitable infrastructure to provide vessels with access to diesel-alternatives if there is not first the demand from vessel owners.



Technological Measures Slender design and Propulsion Improvement Devices (PIDs) were found to have the largest potential fuel savings. PIDs are modifications made to the hull or propeller. Wolfson Unit, an engineering consultancy based in The University of Southampton, principally work in the design and testing of hull shape and hydrodynamics. Their main goal is to reduce resistance and consequently reduce fuel consumption. They commented that “with increasing waterline length comes reduced resistance and increased efficiency�. Further complementing improvements in hull shape, coating technologies have seen advancements in anti-fouling paints that limit corrosion and biological growth which roughen the hull and propeller.

As a rule of thumb, longer, narrower vessels with smoother surfaces below the waterline use fuel more efficiently. Various ship designers in the UK commented that the uptake of advancements in hull shape and coatings have seen a rise in more recent years however the categories of current UK vessel licensing are very influential on the design of vessels. Vessel licences are defined by length and are split into under 10m and over 10m categories. Ian Ellis of Macduff Ship Design commented: “The current system means a lot of vessels are being built wide and deep to create as much space as possible in a vessel that can be licensed in the under 10m category."

Sailing boats are specially designed to reduce drag and achieve high speeds



The Future There are many promising measures that are already being utilised to achieve emission reductions and fuel savings across the marine sectors.

As demand increases, costs decrease: with increased demand from the fishing industry the shift to electric may become more economically viable.

Electric vessels have seen a recent revival. Both conversions and new builds are showing very promising reductions in fuel use, emissions, vibrations, noise and operational costs.

Aside from electric technology, alternative fuels can offer reductions in emissions. Uptake is currently limited by infrastructure in particular bunkering, but research and development is ongoing.

Initial outlay cost is still relatively high, however electric battery technology is currently an area of high investment, particularly in the transport sector, and technologies are continually improving. As more industries and businesses get on board a virtuous circle begins.

Advancements in the hydrodynamic design of new vessels also has a promising future, however changes in current licensing may be needed to open up the possibilities for changing vessel shapes. In the meantime there are many operational and strategic changes to fishing activity that are already being utilised and can bring immediate fuel and emissions reductions. For more information contact: Stuart.McLanaghan@seafish.co.uk

Electric charge points at harbours could be used to charge batteries on fully electric or hybrid boats



Taking Action Now Improving fuel efficiency By Kelly Beatson Fuel is one of the biggest costs for UK fishing businesses and fuel prices can be very volatile. In 2018 average annual spending on fuel per boat ranged from several hundred pounds to three quarters of a million. Much of this depends on the amount of fishing activity

Fishing gears and technology used

but even when you look at the fuel cost as a proportion of income, spending can range from 6% to nearly 50% of total income. Emissions from combustion engine fishing vessels are influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

Propeller size

Steaming distance to grounds

Reducing fuel consumption can lead to cost savings and lower emissions. A 2006 Seafish study, Options for Improving Fuel Efficiency in the UK Fishing Fleet, assessed measures taken by skippers to reduce fuel consumption in response to rising fuel price.



Weather and sea conditions Vessel speed

Boat shape and size

Engine type, age and state of maintenance

The most common operational changes were: • changing towing patterns • reconsidering going to sea in bad weather • modifying gear, including: switching from single to pair trawling, reducing length of trawls, size of the trawl and changing the size and type of trawl doors • reducing steaming speeds • reducing towing speeds The most common strategic changes reported were: • diverting fishing effort to closer grounds • changing to a closer landing port • installing a more fuel efficient engine • changing fishing method or target species

Hull condition and level of fouling

The report also discusses the importance of preventative maintenance. Fouling increases resistance and has a negative effect on fuel efficiency. In cases where vessels were badly fouled, an increase of 30% more power was required to maintain regular speeds. Regular painting therefore helps to maintain efficiency. Engine maintenance is also really important for fuel efficiency. A poorly maintained engine will run less efficiently. On one particular vessel mending a blocked fuel filter reduced fuel consumption by 45%. For the full report visit: https://www.seafish.org/ media/Publications/options_improving_fuel_ efficiency_in_UK_fleet.pdf




The Unsung Army By Marta Moran Quintana For many people the words ‘fishing industry’ bring up images of fishermen in yellow overalls hauling nets and of boats neatly lined up on the quayside. But there is another side to the fishing industry, one that is much less visible to the average observer. The 2018 Seafish survey on employment in the UK fishing fleet painted a familiar picture of skippers, crew and engineers manning the fishing boats, but some others were there too. Of the 730 workers sampled, 25 did not work on a boat. They were onshore workers, the ‘invisible’ workers of the UK fishing industry.

“As sune as the keel o’ the coble touches the sand […] the wives […] wade into the surf to tak the fish ashore.” Walter Scott, The Antiquary (1816)



Beshlie Pool

Madeleine Gustavsson

“There is an unsung army of people keeping the UK’s fishing fleet afloat,” explains Beshlie Pool, Executive Officer of the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Ltd. “Without their work the industry would undoubtedly suffer.” Onshore work in the catching sector includes a wide variety of jobs that are an essential part of running a fishing business. While the people doing this work are also varied, a considerable number of them are women.

Women represented approximately half of all onshore workers in the 2018 Seafish survey sample. Fishwives have long been – and still are – a pillar of fishing business and communities.

Fisherwomen carrying baskets of oysters in Brittany

Elaine Campbell

Madeleine Gustavsson from the University of Exeter is the lead researcher of the Women in Fisheries project. The project investigates the roles of women in fishing communities in the UK and Newfoundland, Canada. As part of her research she speaks to women from fishing families about their lives and work and she’s found that often their role in the fishing business is essential. “Fishing is embedded in a much larger economic context. It is clear that women do a lot of work which supports the activity of catching fish,” says Madeleine. Doing all the shore-based jobs that support a fishing business is one of the most common onshore roles. Elaine Campbell is the co-owner of Campbell Trawlers in Northern Ireland, dealing with the shore-based side of the business along with her husband Gordon. A fishing business needs administration, licensing, bookkeeping, filling in catch returns and plenty of other paperwork, not to mention sorting out repairs or gear replacements. “There are a lot of tasks you can’t do if you’re at sea,” Elaine tells us. “We do them so they [our skippers and crew] can concentrate on fishing.” This is no small feat. For Elaine – and many other onshore workers – it means a full-time job, albeit one which gives her flexibility to work from home and choose her own hours; as well as a sense of pride. “I wouldn’t have time to do anything else!” she laughs. “But it is a good job, I feel I have made the right choice.”



Anita Hutchings and daughter, Rhianna

Catching the fish is not enough – it has to get to the market. Selling the catch also used to be the fishwife’s domain. This is still a common task for onshore workers, though thankfully these days you don’t need to walk 20 miles with a heavy load of fresh catch to the nearest market as may have been the case in the past. This doesn’t mean fish sellers are now any less busy though, as we found out when we spoke to Anita Hutchings in Beesands (Devon). Anita and her family-run Britannia Shellfish, selling fish and shellfish online as well as in their shop and restaurant. They also own two fishing boats, hire skippers and crew for them and buy from other local boats. Anita does most of the buying, selling and all the paperwork for the boats and restaurant, while her husband and daughters do the packing, driving and deliveries. All this work adds up to long and unpredictable days, Anita tells us. “It’s not a nine to five job definitely. The hard thing is that it’s so weather dependent, sometimes you have several days of bad weather and run out of stock – it can get frustrating.” Another big part of onshore work is


representation. Fishing does not exist in isolation today: there are regulations and byelaws to navigate, consultations to reply to and management proposals to discuss. Engaging in these discussions is more important than ever to ensure the best possible outcomes for all involved, but fish do not respect office hours. Many fishermen don’t have the flexibility or the time to attend meetings or keep up-to-date with developments. Fishermen’s representatives from the various organisations around the UK of course have a major role to play, but even engaging with these federations and associations – let alone regulators and policy makers – can be a time-consuming and skilled job. In some cases it is the wives and partners of fishermen who take on the roles of advocate and champion for fishermen’s interests. “The average fisherman is out at sea all day doing the more important job of feeding the nation, so I act as a representative and translator,” says Beshlie about her role in South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen.


Lou Henning

“I ensure fishermen are aware of legislative requirements, I keep them in the loop and represent their interests and opinions where they are unable to attend themselves.”

Not all onshore support to the fishing industry is clearly defined or happens under the umbrella of a job contract. Many tasks could be hard to pin down as ‘working in the fishing industry’ but they are just as important if the boat is to keep going out. Take looking after the crew, for example. A working crew needs food, clean clothes and other supplies. “I vividly remember one woman telling me she got up at 2am every day to make her husband a cooked breakfast before he went to sea,” Beshlie tells us. “She and all the others like her deserve a medal!”

When the lack of local crew led Campbell Trawlers to hire Filipino crew, Elaine saw her responsibilities take on whole new dimensions. There were visas to sort out, medical checks, travel and accommodation; but also an extra element which wasn’t only about work anymore. “Many of these crew come back year after year. And while they are here, you become an extension of their family; you are there for everything they may need.” There is also being the link with the rest of the community: the visible face of the industry. Elaine and other women from Northern Ireland fishing families decided to take a hands-on approach to promoting local seafood. “We started asking ourselves the question ‘What can we do for the industry here?'," explains Lou Henning, Secretary of the Northern Ireland Women in Fisheries (NIWIF) group. NIWIF began selling local seafood in a stall at Kilkeel harbour over 10 years ago. Today, they do around 16 presentations a year to community groups doing cookery demonstrations with local seafood, even creating their own recipes.



Their events are in demand all over Northern Ireland and they are keen to help raise awareness of the industry among their audiences. “People tell us that they buy fish, but don’t really know the amount of work behind it, what it involves to catch it. They like learning about the industry,” Lou explains.

Onshore support is essential to keep the boats out fishing. But sometimes the loose definition of these roles and their lower visibility means that both the work and the people who do it can ‘be invisible’ when describing the fishing industry. Regulators often don’t have much information on onshore workers in the UK fishing industry and how much they contribute to it. This lack of information comes partly from the difficulties in defining what onshore work is and in how to capture it. Another issue can be that some people don’t perceive their own work as worthy of reporting, as Madeleine told us. “Often women [in fishing families] talk about their fisheries activities as ‘help’ or ‘support’. They don’t necessarily think of themselves as workers.” Indeed some may contribute their time because it can lead to a greater household income or free up the time of the main worker to spend on other activities. In some instances they may also be part owners of the business so get a share of the profit anyway. But that doesn’t mean that the time they spend isn’t valuable to and shouldn’t be counted.

Although there aren’t many studies on the value of onshore workers to the fishing industry it is fair to think their contribution is anything but small. In 2002, the Dutch research organisation LEI tried to assign a value to the unpaid work of fishermen’s wives and partners in the Dutch cutter fleet. They estimated that their work added up to €0.9 million, equivalent to between 13% and 22% of the fleet’s annual net profits. The lack of data on onshore workers in the fishing industry makes it difficult to know exactly how many people in the UK rely on fishing for income. It makes it difficult also to assess how changes to fisheries regulations could affect not just fishermen, but also other workers in the industry, their families and communities. “It’s really important to recognise the work of those who fall under the radar,” says Beshlie and we agree. Our perception of who works in the UK fishing industry needs updating if we are to provide a future that works for everyone involved in it. Initiatives like the Seafish survey of employment in the fishing industry or the Women in Fisheries project are trying to fill this knowledge gap. Co-operation and involvement from everyone in the industry is essential for these projects to work. So the next time you meet one of our researchers in the harbour asking about who works in your business, remember: it’s not just about who hauls the nets.

Further Reading The 2018 Seafish report on employment in the UK fishing fleet can be found at: https://www.seafish.org/ article/employmentstatistics-for-uk-fishingfleet-published The next Seafish survey on employment in the UK fleet will take place in the summer of 2021.



In 2017 there were 11,431 people working in the UK fishing fleet 97.9% were male, 2.1% were female Women typically fulfilled onshore roles, such as accounting and other administrative jobs although there were also some women working as deckhands.

Small scale coastal fleets supported a greater proportion of women than large scale and distant water fleets:

Large Scale Fleet:

Small Scale Coastal Fleet:

Distant Water Fleet:

(5,711 workers/45 women)

(5,322 workers/196 women)

(388 workers/0 women)

1% women 4% women 0% women A greater proportion of women work unpaid This may be in part due to the nature of the businesses in the small scale coastal fleet (more likely to be small or family run businesses that rely more on help from family and friends)

Men: 6% unpaid

Women: 9% unpaid

11,190 paid 665 unpaid

241 paid 21 unpaid

Source: STECF-19-02 Social data in EU fisheries. NB: The data above is estimated from a sample in a Seafish employment survey. Our survey involves interviewing skippers and vessel owners around the country and some onshore or unpaid workers may not be captured in our survey. It’s important that we show everyone who contributes to the fishing industry, so next time you take part in our survey remember the unsung army.



One Man and His Boat The Brunton family has been fishing in Dunbar since the 14th century and, according to Barry, he’s had “salt in his veins” since his father took him out for the first time at the age of seven. He’s been in the army, driven buses and managed clubs but he’s always come back to fishing. In many ways, he’s typical of the fisherman we speak to during the annual Seafish fleet survey: boisterous, passionate and possessing a wicked self-deprecating sense of humour.

The difference between Barry and most other fishermen is that he has a YouTube channel and popular Facebook page through which he shares these characteristics and promotes his business to the world.



Prior to the start of his channel, Barry worked for 12 years as the skipper of the prawn trawler Rockhopper of Percuel. During this time he’d always had ideas around showing what life was like at sea but this had extended to nothing more than sharing photos and videos on his personal social media channels.

On 24 April 2019 the first video was posted on the One Man and His Boat YouTube channel with a promise from Barry to take viewers through the whole process of fitting out, launching and operating a new commercial fishing boat. Progress has been good and he’s now well on track to be back fishing in spring 2020.

However, this was enough to grab the interest of local photographer Jeff Carter of Maclean Photographic. After seeing the images from Barry’s social media he came to him with a pitch to team-up and deliver on his idea of showing life at sea. Together they made a couple of videos of life onboard that were well shot and well received but failed to build an audience as other projects meant they couldn’t release them as often as they’d like.

In each of his videos Barry takes his viewers into the (sometimes literal) nuts and bolts of preparing his new Cygnus GM21 the Lynsey B for life at sea. No part of the process is ignored with the videos providing an effective step-by-step guide for anyone wanting to follow in Barry’s footsteps.

After a tough year with technical problems and very little fishing the decision was made to sell the Rockhopper and downsize. It seemed like it could be the end of Barry and Jeff’s plans before they ever really got started. But happily a new and even more ambitious project was in the works.

“If anybody wants to try building a boat and go to sea they at least have a reference. They can see me make a mistake and then they might not repeat it,” Barry says.



Another benefit of having the channel is that Barry has been able to crowdsource feedback from all around the world in real-time with comments posted under the videos and on his channel’s very popular Facebook page.

As much as people can learn from Barry he’s also learned a few things and made changes during the fit out thanks to tips from commenters from as far afield as Japan, China and North America. As the series goes on, he intends to have videos on creel making, the launch of the vessel and even what Barry describes as the “rigmarole”


involved in completing the necessary paperwork to register the vessel (which I think it’s fair to say he isn’t looking forward to). Eventually he aims to be able to take viewers fishing with him via his videos and show the realities of being a commercial fisherman right down to the pounds and pennies in his pocket at the end of the day. Barry revels in his role as presenter and he’s clearly a natural in front of the camera and whilst he’s been surprised and delighted by the positive reaction to the channel he isn’t doing this for the fame or the likes. Once he has the business up and running he wants to use his social media channels to communicate directly with potential customers, the same people who are currently watching and enjoying the videos.


He aims to sell direct from the boat at a price that’s what he describes as, “fair to the fisherman and fair to the customer” and believes that by showing the work involved in catching the fish that he can build trust. In a world where sustainability, provenance and freshness are becoming more and more important, seeing is very much believing. As Barry explains, “It’s something every fisherman should think about. Especially those in far to reach places that will look to sell locally.”

Prior to starting the channel Barry had very little in the way of experience of video production and he admits it’s been an ‘uphill struggle’. Whilst Jeff has provided advice he is often travelling with his work and for the most part it’s been Barry and his sometimes temperamental camera trying to work things out.

However, when he compares his most recent videos to his first he can see how much he has improved simply by process of doing it. He’s also very quick to credit his wife Lynsey for her role keeping things running smoothly as head admin of his social media channel. He readily admits that running the YouTube channel can be time-consuming, particularly when it comes to editing the videos, but for him, the rewards are worth it. The channel has only existed for a few months but at time of writing the YouTube channel has had over 11,500 views and the Facebook page over 1,300 likes. Barry hopes this number will grow as he continues on his journey, investing in better equipment and making higher quality videos. There are a couple of reasons Barry sees for this success, the first being consistency. At the start of the project Barry made a plan to release weekly videos in line with the recommendations made by YouTube. Achieving this goal has helped to build a fan base who know they can rely on One Man and His Boat for new content.



Barry's videos document all aspects of his work on the Lynsey B.

The second and most important is his authenticity. Barry is completely honest with his audience about his business and isn’t afraid to say when he feels things could’ve gone better. His belief is that you can’t be cynical in your approach and in his experience the more he’s been himself, the more followers he’s picked up. Over months of producing content and hours of hard work he has built a community who will be invested in his future success. Yes, Barry would be pleased if every person who liked or subscribed became a customer but this isn’t something he can force. All he can do is produce the best content possible.

Barry says, “To get something you want you have to work hard at it. That’s just as true of making videos as it is of fishing. If you have the desire you should do it and let other people follow you.”


Towards the end of the video of the delivery of the Lynsey B, Barry talks directly to the camera, “This little bad girl behind us means so much to us, you have no idea.” The thing is, thanks to platforms like Facebook and YouTube, the viewers of Barry’s video actually do.


This is the #FishForecast Joanne Coates, visual storyteller, founder of #FishForecast on Instagram and general social media whizz was official photographer at a recent Fishing into the Future Course where she shared some advice for promoting your business fishing on social media. Joanne's top tips for social media Images: You don’t have to be an amazing photographer, you can use your phone or a cheap GoPro camera to get really good material. People are interested in what they don’t get to see and what they don’t know about. Your personal brand: Choose a distinctive and memorable handle (username) which is not too hard to type. We all know how many John Smiths there are in the UK, make sure people are looking at the right one! Have conversations: Social media isn’t just about broadcasting what you think. Follow other accounts and engage by leaving comments and questions. Tagging in: It’s very hard to build a following all by yourself. Whenever you make a post think about tagging people or organisations who be might want to support you. This could be your PO, local businesses or even organisations like Seafish. Have fun with it! Have fun: Social media is supposed to be fun so don’t get stressed out about likes and views. People will respond to someone who is genuinely having a good time doing what they love and that’s something fishing has plenty of! All images from www.instagram.com/fishforecast



Beyond the Big 5: Why there’s money in less popular fish By Rannvå Danielsen The introduction of the landing obligation means that fishermen now have to land everything, including less marketable species. How can fishermen make more money from these species?



“All fish are tasty,” Caroline Bennett says. She would know. Caroline has been a chef for 25 years and owns a Japanese restaurant in Plymouth. Japanese cuisine is notoriously particular about seafood, with dishes like sushi and sashimi calling for very fresh, very high quality ingredients. “I have yet to taste a fish that didn’t taste good if it was treated well,” she says. “That is the key. You have to treat them well.” Caroline, as well as being a chef and a restaurant owner, founded Sole of Discretion, a fish trading company, in 2016.

“We started because we wanted to use what fishermen land to the best advantage for fishermen,” Caroline says. That means that Sole of Discretion buys some of the species fishermen may not be able to sell elsewhere – and gives them a fair price. Their manifesto states “We believe that every fish has a value.” “Some species have a high market value and we cannot compete with wholesalers for those species,” she says. “But some of the lesser known species get a poor price. We take those and pay a floor-price for them.” This means fishermen are able to sell more or all of their catch. The high value catch can go to wholesalers and the lesser known species can be landed with Sole of Discretion.

Caroline Bennett



Caroline explains that Sole of Discretion buys over 50 species. The most common species they buy are pout, dogfish, wrasse, and flounder. On the market, these species may fetch anything from 20p to £1.20 per kg. “We pay a minimum of £1.50.” They only buy from vessels under 10 metres and they prefer static gear or lines, but they also buy from small-scale trawlers if the fish is of good quality.

“They need to take care of the fish,” Caroline says. That is the criteria she sets as a buyer. Her background in Japanese cuisine means that quality is a top priority for her. She firmly believes in good catch handling procedures such as proper chilling and storage.

What is the Landing Obligation again? The landing obligation came into full force on 1 January 2019. Phasing in began in 2015. It applies to all commercial fishing vessels, including vessels under 10 metres in length. The landing obligation applies to fish of all sizes and all species managed with quotas unless exemptions are in place. The landing obligation also applies to undersized fish, which will be counted against quotas but cannot be sold for human consumption. It is therefore important to use gear that minimises catch of small fish to make the most of your quota. Some fish must be released unharmed. These include bass, spurdog, and bluefin tuna which must be released if you catch in excess of your landing limit. Skates and rays may also be discarded if caught using scallop dredges or longlines. Certain gears are also exempt from the landing obligation. These include using pots and traps, so you can discard fish and shellfish caught with these gears, and beam trawl for brown shrimp. Find more information on gov.uk/mmo

The top 5 seafood species consumed in the UK make up 66% of total sales (by value).

Warm water prawns

Source: MMO and HMRC.

Average landed price in 2018 (per kg) Amount landed in 2018 (tonnes)



























Warm water prawns

















108,342 84,041

* Price and weight is from trade data not UK landed volume and value.



Community Interests at Heart Sole of Discretion is a Community Interest Company. Fishermen can become members and the company's profit goes back into their community. They started out with three members and have now grown to 10. The company also employs four onshore workers for processing, and Caroline, who runs the company. The original idea behind Sole of Discretion was to pay fishermen better prices for lesser known species. But, for Caroline, part of it was also exasperation. “There has been such a decline in small-scale fishermen. Unless you help small-scale fishermen stay alive, they won’t exist in 15 to 20 years,” she says. “Small-scale fishermen are landing good fish but there is no scheme to help them,” she says. She recognised that the average consumer is not a fish nerd like her and doesn’t know what lesser-known species are good to eat but also enjoyable. She decided something had to be done. “I wanted to help consumers make ethical choices, quickly and easily. If things aren’t simple, you can’t expect consumers to change.” She wanted to give people the ability to eat fish with the least possible environmental impact. That means supporting low-impact fishing methods and local producers, she explains.

Traceability is very important to Sole of Discretion. All of their packaging shows exactly who caught the fish and how it was caught providing an important link between the product and the people who caught it.


“Fishermen who enjoy what they do want to be positively promoted for their sustainable practices. They have a real sense of pride in their products,” Caroline says. She thinks that traceability will become even more important for consumers in the future, her advice to fishermen is to make sure their processors put method of catch on the packaging.

A Strong Vision for the Future The Sole of Discretion business model is quite simple: they buy good quality fish, prepare and blast-freeze it to preserve that good quality, and sell it. Their products go to online retailers that focus on ethical and sustainable products – such as Abel & Cole and Farmdrop – and to several independent farm shops and delis. Sole of Discretion currently only operates out of Plymouth but Caroline has a strong vision for the future. “We are trying to set ourselves up in places that don’t have auctions,” she says. "Fishermen usually get good prices at auctions, so Sole of Discretion is not needed as much there," she explains. Ultimately, she would like Sole of Discretion to become a franchise, so others can do the same in other places. “I would like to see communities come together around their small-scale fisheries, to buy fish locally and process fish locally.” By working together, she believes smallscale fishermen can take control of their value chain and get the scale needed to sell those less valuable species. “That is the only way you can become in control of your own destiny,” she says. Watch this space for the upcoming Love Seafood campaign from Seafish.

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Quay Issues magazine is our way of telling some of the stories our researchers hear every year during our socio-economic survey of the UK Fishing Fleet. The survey is an opportunity for fishermen to tell us about their fishing business and ensures that decision makers have the best evidence.

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Your Editorial Team:

Kirsten Milliken Quay Issues Editor and Economics Project Manager

Ana Witteveen Assistant Economist

Marta Moran Quintana Economics Project Manager

RannvĂĄ Danielsen Economist

Kelly Beatson Economics Researcher

Steven Lawrence Former Economics Project Manager


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