Fishing Industry UK

Productivity and Sustainability in the Fishing Industry

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Join us as Phil Haslam, the Managing Director of North Atlantic Fishing Company (NAFCO), guides us on a journey towards nourishing the world through a thriving and environmentally responsible fishing industry.

Phil Haslam, the Managing Director of North Atlantic Fishing Company (NAFCO)

Across the nation, fishing stands as a vital pillar of numerous communities, offering employment opportunities and fostering economic stability. The sustainable seafood sector and the responsible fishing industry play a pivotal role, not only in driving substantial economic growth within the UK and beyond but also in championing and attaining global food security objectives.

Amidst the government’s call for all food producers to reduce their emissions towards achieving UK net-zero by 2050, the fishing sector assumes a vital responsibility in offering a sustainable and low-carbon food source. Key to this effort is debunking the misconception that the fishing industry inevitably harms the environment, as a sustainable fishing industry has indeed emerged.

The development of the sustainable fishing industry

The issue of hunger stands as one of the most urgent global challenges, with its prevalence increasing since 2014. The COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified this crisis, as evidenced by the alarming statistics of 720 million to 811 million individuals experiencing hunger in 2020, representing an increase of approximately 161 million people compared to 2019.

The magnitude of food insecurity ranks it as the third most significant global emergency we confront today. Disturbingly, in 2020, approximately 2.4 billion individuals were categorized as moderately or severely food insecure, witnessing an alarming surge of nearly 320 million people compared to the preceding year.

The second Sustainable Development Goal set by the United Nations focuses on eradicating hunger, attaining food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture. With a significant portion of the global population relying on fish as a primary source of nutritious animal protein, pelagic fish, in particular, emerge as a sustainable food resource. Pelagic fish inhabit the mid-water column of the ocean, situated away from the seabed and found in the vast expanse of the open sea.

Capturing these fish is a cost-effective process, thanks to its ability to be carried out on a large scale, with the added benefit of immediate freezing in onboard ship factories. Not only are pelagic fish a nutritious choice, being low in cholesterol, but they also offer a rich source of essential nutrients like iron, riboflavin, calcium, and beneficial long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

With the continuous growth of the global population, there arises an increasing need for affordable, protein-rich sustenance. Presently, the world’s population stands at 7.9 billion, and according to UN projections, it is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2023 and a staggering 11 billion by 2100. Meeting the dietary requirements of this expanding population inevitably necessitates the inclusion of fish as a vital food source, encompassing both wild-caught varieties and those cultivated through aquaculture practices.

In essence, the significance of fishing becomes evident when we consider the task of nourishing the world’s population. Nonetheless, meeting these demands hinges upon the industry’s capacity to adapt and demonstrate its commitment to sustainability. Moreover, it is crucial to communicate that fishing operations predominantly adhere to stringent regulations and operate within sustainable frameworks. By doing so, we can highlight fishing as a pivotal solution to address global challenges related to food sourcing and security.

So, what steps are we taking – both as a country and globally – to ensure a productive, sustainable fishing sector?

Climate and biodiversity is a core tenet of a thriving, sustainable fishing industry

fishing industry UK

The thriving fishing sector is built upon the foundation of sustainability, emphasizing the importance of minimizing bycatch and safeguarding marine biodiversity. However, as the global population continues to grow, there is a pressing need to expand marine food production to meet increasing demands. Balancing the imperative of sustainability with the necessity for scaling up production becomes a crucial challenge in ensuring the viability of the fishing industry.

For us to effectively provide sustenance to the projected population of ten billion by 2050, it is imperative that the fishing industry takes a proactive role in embracing sustainable practices. At present, approximately 82.5% of wild-caught fish originates from sustainable stocks, accounting for 66% of total stocks worldwide. As the reliance on oceanic food sources intensifies to ensure global food security, it becomes crucial to further enhance sustainability efforts while simultaneously ramping up production to meet the growing demand.

The role of research and innovation cannot be overstated when it comes to comprehending and mitigating the environmental consequences of fishing. One such instance is the substantial investment made by the pelagic fishing sector to subject all catches to rigorous scientific analysis, evaluating both operational aspects and the quality of the catch. The resulting data is widely disseminated within the scientific community, facilitating informed decision-making by government-led fisheries management in shaping regulations and policies for the betterment of the industry.

To achieve sustainable and abundant fishing stocks, international cooperation among nations, fisheries, and supranational organizations is indispensable. Such collaboration should involve the establishment of agreements, effective monitoring of waters to combat illegal fishing, and close coordination between fisheries and national governments in formulating fisheries management policies. Additionally, fisheries must prioritize ongoing investments in innovative practices, including the adoption of modern fishing equipment, greener fuels, and propulsion technologies. This commitment to innovation will contribute to the overall sustainability and environmental consciousness of the fishing industry.

UK fisheries management for sustainability goals

Taking into consideration the broader global context, it is worthwhile to examine the specific efforts undertaken by the UK to foster sustainable fishing practices. The UK Fisheries Act of 2020 outlines eight key objectives that all UK fisheries are mandated to uphold. These objectives encompass sustainability, precautionary measures, ecosystem considerations, reliance on scientific evidence, bycatch management, equal access to resources, national benefits, and addressing the challenges posed by climate change. By adhering to these objectives, the UK aims to promote responsible fishing practices and ensure the long-term viability of its fisheries.

The UK’s new fisheries strategy is built upon these objectives, forming the bedrock for a comprehensive approach that integrates cutting-edge innovations with a steadfast commitment to safeguarding marine life. Serving as a blueprint, these objectives aim to establish a framework that fosters both productivity and sustainability in fishing practices within UK waters. Fisheries management policies play a crucial role in regulating fishing stocks, ensuring a consistent supply of fish to meet the needs of global communities. Continual updates to these policies, driven by research and innovation, are essential to preserve marine biodiversity and prevent the detrimental effects of overfishing. By embracing such measures, the UK strives to strike a balance between meeting the demand for fish and safeguarding the delicate marine ecosystems.

UK government funding for the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme

fishing industry UK

In a significant commitment, the UK government has allocated a generous funding of up to £100 million for the Fisheries and Seafood scheme. This financial support aims to facilitate and promote new advancements in various aspects of the industry, including catching, processing, and aquaculture. By providing this funding, the government seeks to drive innovation, boost productivity, and foster sustainable practices within the fisheries and seafood sector.

Specifically, the scheme aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Foster a more sustainable and resilient sector.
  • Enhance the demand for English seafood in new markets.
  • Encourage participation by involving stakeholders in co-design and co-management processes.
  • Attain good environmental status by conserving and restoring the marine environment.
  • Contribute to net-zero goals by reducing emissions within the industry.

As part of its commitment to sustainability objectives, this scheme incorporates funding for marine conservation efforts. By allocating resources to protect habitats, preserve ecosystems, and promote biodiversity, the aim is to foster vibrant and thriving marine environments. Such measures not only contribute to the sustainability of fishing stocks but also play a crucial role in safeguarding the overall well-being of marine life.

The government’s commitment is of significant importance, considering the vital economic contributions and employment opportunities that the fishing industry brings to coastal communities across the UK, many of which heavily rely on this sector. The sustainability and effective management of fisheries are paramount to securing the long-term success and viability of these communities. By prioritizing well-managed fisheries, we can ensure the preservation of these opportunities and the sustained prosperity of fishing communities in the years to come.

Sustainable stocks and communities

Fish is an indispensable and affordable source of nourishment, brimming with essential nutrients. It plays a crucial role in addressing the global challenge of feeding a growing population sustainably. Rather than being a problem, fish is an integral part of the solution to ensure a sustainable food supply. As the global population continues to expand, there will inevitably be an increased demand for fish. However, it is crucial that this growth in consumption is accompanied by sustainable practices. Recognizing the invaluable contribution of fish in combating hunger and its potential to provide sustenance for future generations is vital. Therefore, international investment in research and innovation within the fishing industry becomes imperative to support its sustainability and address food security challenges effectively.

The commitment demonstrated by the UK government in this initiative will play a significant role in promoting sustainable fishing stocks and practices. Not only will it contribute to the preservation of marine life, but it will also foster economic growth, offering valuable opportunities to fishing communities throughout the nation. This investment serves as a catalyst for positive change, bolstering both environmental conservation and the prosperity of those reliant on the fishing industry.

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