A group of 18 fishermen from across the United Kingdom (UK), representing a wide array of gear types and fisheries, joined scientists and policy makers at London's Royal Society in January to chart a course towards sustainable fisheries through science, industry, and policy partnerships. The two-day steering committee meeting, hosted by the Prince's Trust International Sustainability Unit and the fishing industry-funded trade organization, Seafish, sparked enthusiasm for change and broader adoption of emergent best practices. The Prince of Wales, who has long held that 'seeing is believing,' joined the meeting to listen as fishermen articulated key issues, and provided his unequivocal support to finding innovative solutions.
Fishermen and scientists alike emphasized the need for better data in the stock assessment processes and looked for ways for fishermen to contribute additional data beyond basic International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) requirements. Supply chain collaboration was identified as a way to improve financial returns for fishermen who deliver high-quality products to the market.
Fishermen focused on ways to improve efficiency in fishing operations through gear innovation and business planning and sought more transparency in the quota management process -- all of which can increase profits, reduce fish waste, and reduce habitat impacts. Lastly, fishermen highlighted the need for education about sustainable fishing methods already in practice and sought other ways to communicate the health benefits of consuming seafood through positive messages aimed at today's and tomorrow's consumers, including elementary school children. The issues have a familiar ring to those we face in New England.
To help broaden this conversation to a wider group of 100 UK fishermen, scientists, policy makers, and supply chain experts, the steering committee worked in teams to design a kick-off event entitled Fishing Into the Future: Charting A Course Towards Sustainable UK Fisheries. The event will offer attendees the opportunity to network and share examples of best practices from around the world. It is scheduled for July 2013 in Brixham, England, the UK's largest fishing port. The steering committee hopes that future workshops and data collection programs emerge from the kickoff event, which Seafish is eager to support going forward.
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