NFFO publishes its response to the Joint Fisheries Statement consultation currently under way by the four UK fisheries administrations cefas nffo new forum

Cefas and the NFFO have joined forces to create a new fishing/science forum facilitating a more direct dialogue between industry and science

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) have joined together to create a new industry/science forum.

The inaugural meeting was held on 30 November 2022, facilitating a more direct dialogue between the fishing industry and fisheries scientists from Cefas. The first meeting was held online, with the hope of future meetings being either face-to-face or hybrid.

NFFO Chief Executive, Barrie Deas, said: “We have long recognised the importance of a strong dialogue between fisheries scientists and the industry, but in recent years we have tended to hold those discussions within a policy context. It’s important that this continues but we think that a forum like this would allow for a more direct conversation between fisheries scientists and the industry to take place. You can’t expect to have good fisheries management based on inadequate information, so understanding each other is of paramount importance.”

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Cefas CEO Neil Hornby commented: “This Forum provides a great opportunity for the fishing industry and Cefas’ scientists to come together to discuss the pivotal issues facing the marine environment. There are many topics where we share a mutual interest, and it was interesting to hear the concerns, comments, and suggestions of the industry. I hope that this Forum will continue to promote a closer working relationship and enhance outcomes for the ocean.”


The first meeting covered a wide range of topics:

  • stock identification
  • inshore trends
  • the young fish survey
  • science underpinning discard policy
  • Fishery Management Plans (FMPs)
  • cuttlefish stock assessments
  • distributional changes in species
  • impacts of sea temperature change
  • incorporating industry knowledge
  • data-limited stocks

Cefas presented their new analytical tool, Geofish, which has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the spatial dimensions of fisheries. The tool, whilst still in development, combines satellite tracking, and logbook, data that can be probed to provide detailed information about fishing activity and its impacts. Geofish is emerging as an important advisory tool for some of the trade-offs ahead. Data security, levels of access, and adequate safeguards will be crucial and were part of the discussion.


Spatial Prioritisation

The second area into which the Forum took a deep dive was spatial prioritisation, against the background of the ABPmer report produced for NFFO/SFF, which signposts the scale of potential displacement of fishing activities from historic fishing grounds.



Topics for discussion at future meetings of the Forum were discussed and will likely include:

  • shellfish management
  • scientific contribution to FMPs
  • improving use of industry data in assessments
  • discards/selectivity
  • mixed fisheries
  • data-limited species
  • gear design and bycatch mitigation
  • future climate change impacts on fisheries
  • marine spatial prioritisation
  • long-term trends/challenges in specific fisheries; e.g. North Sea demersal, Celtic Sea and Channel
  • new emerging fisheries



This was an important first step to establish a regular dialogue between fisheries scientists and the fishing industry. Although the first meeting included scientists and the NFFO Executive, the Forum could evolve over time to incorporate other parties. The Forum will meet three or four time a year, with the next meeting in April 2023. This will not preclude stand-alone meetings on specific topics in the meantime.

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