Marine Scotland has published the results of an online survey regarding the wild capture fishing sector which was held during the COP26

Marine Scotland has published the results of an online survey regarding the wild capture fishing sector which was held during the COP26

Marine Scotland has published the results of an online survey regarding the wild capture fishing sector which was held during the COP26 climate change summit in 2021.

In total, 66 respondents participated. The participants came from a range of backgrounds although, Marine Scotland say, fishing representatives made up the majority of the respondents (59.1%).

Marine Scotland says the results of the survey shows strong engagement and recognition of the issues on the topic of climate change across all stakeholder groups. This included both topics relating to the emissions of greenhouse gases from the industry’s activities and the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Key themes emerging relate to innovation in fuels, propulsion and gears to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the shared responsibility across industry, government and research communities to support the sector, and the interaction between bottom-contacting fishing gears and natural carbon stores.

The results of the survey shows that there is widespread recognition of the linkages between the wild capture of fish and the global climate emergency.

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“When considering the overarching questions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland, and the potential role of the wild capture fishing sector in aiding this reduction, 74.2% of respondents chose “agree” or “strongly agree”, 19.7% were undecided and the remaining 6.0% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement. There was a larger spread of opinion in the responses of public sector and fishing industry representatives. When considering the urgent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from fishing activity, agreement across all categories reduced to 66.7% and disagreement increased to 16.6% distribution between. This shift was most noticeable in the industry representatives” says the findings of the survey.

“While the impacts of climate change on fish and fisheries are becoming increasingly apparent, the opinion of respondents to the urgency was not unequivocal. 69.7% of respondents agreed that urgent adaptation action is needed, while 16.7% disagreed and 13.6% were undecided.”

Across all respondent categories, the survey found that there is recognition of shared responsibility for climate change between the public sector and the fishing industry. For reducing greenhouse gas emissions, suggestions of others that should be considered in sharing responsibility included processors, maritime industries (propulsion, engines, technology), catering companies, local authorities and accreditation schemes.

On the issue of the estimation of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE), The majority of industry respondents (71.2%) do not currently estimate greenhouse gas emissions from their activity.

“This is not surprising given the complexity of such a calculation, and lack of knowledge on methodology and boundaries were highlighted as key barriers. Based on the free text responses, there is a general awareness of the emissions sources in the wild capture fishing sector” the survey found.

There was also a strong response across all respondent catetoris to have the tool to calculate GGE emissions from the sector.

Stakeholders across the wild capture fishing sector in Scotland are willing to participate in workshops and projects to help support climate action with what appears a wider spread in engagement in certain fleet segments in the industry.

Respondents give a clear indication that a shift across the wild capture fishing sector to lower greenhouse gas emission fuels would help the sector to reduce its emissions. 

Gear innovation was recognised by all respondents as one possible way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from wild capture fishing, with 86.4% responding “yes”

The role of modifications to deck machinery and refrigeration appears less of a priority in addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

Nearly half of respondents (48.5% yes) mentioned that they are already observing changes due to climate change. These changes include increased storminess, migration of species, growth rate of species, seasonality of species, algal blooms, and increased lice in salmon farms. 

On other suggestion, Common themes in the responses were the consideration of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) or similar vessel monitoring (seven mentions), the provision of preferential access to marine space for low impact gears (six mentions), the consideration of blue carbon habitat impact (six mentions), the consideration of a three mile limit (five responses) and, related to this, a shift from mobile gears to static ones (two responses), and a ban of inshore trawling/dredging (two responses). Improved communication and collaboration across all parties (public sector, industry and science) were both mentioned in four responses.

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Marine Scotland survey results on wild capture fishing sector

by editor time to read: 7 min