£1.4 million sustainable fishing fund launched

The funding is the first part of the £24 million earmarked from the £100 million UK Seafood Fund specifically for science and innovation projects.

One of the successful applicants announced today is a project trialling the use of kites and Looming Eye buoys to deter seabirds from diving into the water near to an operational fishery and getting caught up in the nets – an issue which is estimated to kill up to 400,000 seabirds worldwide each year. It’s hoped the project will help to protect the UK’s vital but threatened seabird populations, such as the Great Northern Divers, Black-throated Divers and Slavonian Grebes.

Another winning project will explore the use of artificial lights to change fish behaviour with a long term goal to look at more selective and sustainable ways of trawling for nephrops and squid, which can currently impact on other marine wildlife.

The £100 million UK Seafood Fund was launched to help level up coastal communities across the UK. Alongside the funding for science and innovation, it also includes a £65 million infrastructure scheme announced in December which will be made available for projects such as modernising ports and harbours, and a further £10 million to encourage new entrants into the processing, catching and aquaculture sectors, alongside training and upskilling current workers.

These schemes will ensure the industry and coastal communities are equipped to benefit from additional quota gained as a result of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed with the EU in 2020.  Following our departure from the Common Fisheries Policy, there have been uplifts in quota for UK vessels, with the value of UK-EU fishing opportunities for the UK in 2021 totalling approximately £333 million.

Fisheries Minister, Victoria Prentis, said: “I am pleased to see the £100m UK Seafood Fund in action, backing the impressive wealth of talent and innovation in our fishing industry.

“A sustainable fishing industry is essential if we are to ensure we have a healthy, thriving marine environment that is capable of supporting our world-class industry long into the future.