Promoting sustainable and profitable fishing practices to protect and preserve ocean health


Promoting sustainable and profitable fishing practices to protect and preserve ocean health

SWFPO supports a highly productive catching sector with a collective interest in the sustainable management of fish and shellfish stocks around the UK

Sustainably harvested seafood is key to the future success of our members and the commercial fishing industry at large.

That’s why SWFPO has to date focused its attention on a range of sustainability initiatives, including improving gear selectivity, stock assessments and associated research, as well as the reduction of discarded and unwanted catch.

With a growing green agenda and an expanding network of marine protected areas, we are now looking to further address the impact our fleets have on the wider marine environment, beyond the catch. Our aim, to reduce the overall footprint of the fisheries our members rely on.

Better data improves fisheries management of the stocks most important to our members, whilst allowing it to remain profitable. So we are actively involved in the development of robust evidence bases, including the development of harvest control strategies and control rules.

Reducing environmental impacts of fishing

Over the years, SWFPO members have embraced a number of changes to their fishing practices.

In 2009–10, an innovative partnership between scientists and Devon beam trawlermen, referred to as ‘Project 50%’, was set-up with an aim to help to protect fish stocks by reducing the amount of juvenile fish discarded overboard by over 50%.

These include adopting changes to their trawl gear geometry to improve selectivity, taking part in innovative trawl design projects, and routinely installing trawl escape panels to reduce unwanted bycatch.

Advances in scallop gear technology are currently not possible due to stringent gear requirements stipulated in national legislation. SWFPO supports judicious changes which would permit the scallop industry to explore alternative, more environmentally friendly scallop gear as part of a wider suite of management proposals.

Addressing climate change impacts

It is widely acknowledged that as a relatively low-carbon activity, fishing as a source of food can make a valuable contribution to a low-carbon future.

Fisheries are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the UK fishing industry as a whole needs to rethink current practices and modernise to meet the challenge of climate change.

How to develop workable solutions whilst maintaining an economically viable fishing fleet is key. SWFPO is currently looking for partners to help us reduce the overall footprint of our fleet.

We are keen to increase research and knowledge around blue carbon habitats, stocks and the fishing sectors greenhouse gas emissions and blue carbon impact.

We are also exploring ways in which our fleet can reduce CO2 emissions by reducing vessels fuel consumption, and exploring alternative fuel types.