Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Bringing together fishermen and experts in the seafood supply chain to champion innovation

Fisheries Innovation Scotland: “Bringing together fishermen and experts in the seafood supply chain to champion innovation”

Fathom podcast, in conversation with Kara Brydson from Fisheries Innovation Scotland and Paul Macdonald from the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation, share some exciting industry-led innovations for the Scottish fishing fleet.

In the latest episode from the UK’s only commercial fishing podcast, the Fathom team welcomed Kara Brydson, the Executive Director of Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS) and Paul Macdonald from the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation (SFO). Fathom took this episode ‘on the (virtual) road’ to learn more about fishing innovations in Scotland, and how an unprecedented collaboration by Scottish fishermen will trial bespoke technology and data sharing to help avoid unwanted catches of cod and whiting.

Kara Brydson describes FIS as an organisation that ‘brings together fishermen and other experts along the seafood supply chain, to champion innovation and try new things – to make Scottish fisheries more prosperous and sustainable.’ Speaking on Fathom, Kara Brydson explains that FIS projects must be practical and impactful, to add value to fishing businesses and with fisher expertise built in from the start - from ‘how to best use industry self-sampling to improve trust in fisheries science’, to ‘building capacity within fishing communities and investing in people’.

When asked by Fathom host Paul Trebilcock of the Cornish Fish Producers’ Organisation (CFPO) what innovation means to FIS, Brydson said: ‘Innovation is not just about bits of kit. Innovation can be quite a scary word, and often people say ‘what do you mean?’ But really it’s about doing things better and thinking about things in different ways.’

Paul Macdonald from the SFO detailed an exciting joint project between FIS, fishing organisations and the University of Aberdeen, where fishermen on the west coast of Scotland are piloting a software system to share information on unwanted catches of cod and whiting in ‘real-time’. Macdonald says that the inclusion of skippers in the design and development process ‘[By holding] regular meetings with [them] to get their ideas on how [the mobile app] is developing, and to get their ideas on what things they would find useful’ has been a key part of the project development

Macdonald says that this collaborative process is helping to create an app built around what fishermen want so it has more potential to be ‘something that is of use and of value to the ones who will actually be using it.’ 

Trebilcock remarked upon the success of this project – praising FIS for its inclusion of the fishing industry in the development of this app – and sparking deeper conservation about the importance of true collaboration in successful fisheries science projects. Macdonald agreed: ‘We have certainly felt all along that you need to bring fishermen along with you. [The app] needs to be something that’s useful to fishermen, as well.

Trebilcock said FIS’ project perfectly highlights what the Fathom podcast is all about: ‘Shining a light on good practice and sharing it, so hopefully others will be able to use it…and make it applicable to their fishery, to their challenge.’ 

Fathom hosts Paul Trebilcock and Chris Ranford agreed that the west of Scotland pilot – an example of best practice innovation – could offer opportunities to fisheries beyond Scottish waters.

Listen to the episode in full here:

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