Fishing prize for innovation

Richard Slaski.
Richard Slaski.

New ideas to promote innovation in the fishing industry could earn one fisherman £15,000.

Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS) is seeking proposals and applications for its latest set of research and development projects which include a Fisheries Innovation Award Competition, a Bursary to help career development within the fishing industry and a Feasibility Study into self-sampling in the pelagic sector.

The first of what is hoped will be an annual Fisheries Innovation Award Competition is calling for proposals; it’s open to any individuals or organizations and it’s free. The competition judges will be looking at two areas: Innovation in reducing the cost of catching fish/shellfish; and Innovation in improving the quality and value of the catch, both geared towards increasing profitability. Entrants to the competition will not have to conduct costly and extensive new trials, although they will have to produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate that their idea is practical. The closing date is 31/10/2017. The winning entry will receive £15000, with second and third prizes of £10000 and £5000.

FIS Executive Director, Richard Slaski is particularly enthusiastic about the potential these awards may bring: “The innovation award is our newest initiative and we are very excited about it. We know there are bright ideas floating around, and it’s the nature of our industry that people are innovative. We can’t hope to know all of what is out there, but we would like to think we can harness some of this novel thinking for the benefit of the wider fishing sector. Then there’s another aspect to this, and that’s to provide an avenue towards further investment in the best ideas. It’s often the case that good ideas get no further because of a lack of investment. So we have a double objective, firstly to bring out the ideas and secondly to potentially find an avenue for additional support. The FIS Board has a real willingness to take the right kind of ideas further.”

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Following on from a previous, very successful, FIS initiative that funded young fishermen to take up international placements, the Fisheries International Study Bursary has widened the potential participation to encourage career development of those working in or with the commercial fishing industry including: catching, processing, supply chain, NGO, academia and so on. Individuals must have identified an international study or networking opportunity that could further their development or care. There is no set budget for the bursary as it will vary depending on location and travel costs. It is likely that applicants will come from the ‘younger’ sector of the industry, but it is very much about development of the individual: “One of our ambitions is to encourage a new generation of skilled and able people to take the Scottish seafood industry forward. Career development is crucial in this respect and we believe that this opportunity to study how fisheries are managed and organised in other parts of the world will help the next generation develop their careers”, added John Goodlad, Chair of Fisheries Innovation Scotland. The closing date is 31/10/2017.

Self-sampling programme

The third announcement for funding from FIS calls for proposals for a feasibility study on an industry self-sampling programme for the pelagic sector. The project recognises that data collected by the fishing industry is now more important than ever as other research institute and state-funded efforts are facing reductions in funds and capacity. Data collected at sea and onshore by the industry itself has the potential of enhancing the quality of catch and biological information necessary for improved stock assessment and real-time management. John Goodlad summarised the thinking behind the project: “This pelagic project is innovative insofar as it is integrating data collected by fishermen into the scientific assessment process. If, as we believe, this project is successful then it could become a template for other projects in other fisheries”. This project will be delivered in partnership with the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association which will fund it equally with FIS. The closing date for proposals is 15/09/2017.

John Goodlad Chairman of FIS is delighted that FIS has been able to support these research, innovation and personal development initiatives: “FIS is a unique organisation in two respects. It is, firstly, funded from both the public and private sectors and, secondly, its focus is solely on how the sustainability of Scottish fisheries can be improved through innovation. The project and awards we have just announced recognise that there is considerable expertise within the industry that with a little help can be brought to bear on the issues facing the industry today.”