Fish and fisheries research to inform ScotMER evidence gaps and future strategic research in the UK: review

This study undertook a literature review and consultation with key stakeholders to establish current knowledge for evidence gaps identified in the ScotMER Fish and Fisheries evidence map. This report includes research recommendations to help fill remaining strategic priority gaps.

This document is part of a collection

Background Information – ScotMER's Evidence Gaps

At present, the ScotMER's fish and fisheries evidence map includes the following 15 evidence gaps:

  • FF.01: Accurate mapping of fishing effort and catches in space and time;
  • FF.02: Accurate and validated method to predict fisheries displacement levels and locations;
  • FF.03: Fisheries stakeholders integration and participation process;
  • FF.04: Improvements in Environmental Impact Assessment methodologies;
  • FF.05: Strategic fisheries management;
  • FF.06: Underwater noise and vibrations;
  • FF.07: Electromagnetic fields (EMF);
  • FF:08: Collision risk (tidal turbines);
  • FF.09: Accurate spatio-temporal patterns of spawning activity by marine fish species;
  • FF.10: Essential fish habitat (EFH);
  • FF.11: Reef/fish aggregation effect;
  • FF.12: Inshore populations/distribution;
  • FF.13: Cumulative pressures and impact pathways;
  • FF.14: Co-existence with commercial fisheries: and
  • FF.15: Chemical/toxicity effects.

Target species/groups, relevance and priority ratings identified in the current evidence map for each evidence gap are summarised in Table 1.

Further information on the ScotMER's programme and the evidence maps is available at: Science and research - Marine renewable energy - (

Table 1: ScotMER's fish and fisheries evidence gaps, target species/group, relevance and priority ratings
Evidence Gap Target Species/Group Relevance Priority
FF.01: Accurate mapping of fishing effort and catches in space and time All < 12 m fisheries Evidence of past fishing activity from vessels not currently fitted with Vessel monitoring System (VMS). Medium
Contribute to establishing historic fishing grounds in an area. May assist with spatial conflicts with other marine users, gear conflict resolution, as well as fisheries management. Low
Whole fleet (emphasis on scallop fisheries) Important for seasonal management of marine activities. Easier access to International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) landings data for relevant impact area. Medium
Fisheries in the vicinity of offshore wind farms Monitoring of commercial fishing activity adjacent to developments to aid with baseline characterisation. High
Creel fisheries targeting brown crab Most creel vessels are not currently fitted with VMS. Contentious area during offshore wind farm construction. Low
Nomadic fleets (e.g. squid fishery) Looking at historic data to determine patterns in nomadic fleet fishing activities (e.g. how often they return to areas and what time of the year) Low
FF.02: Accurate and validated method to predict fisheries displacement levels and locations Scottish king scallop dredge fishery Estimate displacement levels in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and assist with more accurate disruption settlements. High
Scottish Nephrops trawl fishery High
All Scottish vessels in harbours designated as operations based for offshore wind farm construction Competition for onshore infrastructure in the licensing process – harbour and pier facilities and potential conflicts between fishing sector and offshore developers. Low
Static gear inshore fisheries Concentration of fishing effort on smaller areas due to exclusion -
Whole fleet (emphasis on mobile gear for Floating Offshore Wind (FOW) Minimum operating space requirements for fishing activities when conducting fishing activities (deploying and hauling gear) -
FF.03: Fisheries stakeholder integration and participation process Whole fleet (emphasis on interacting fisheries) Review of consultation process to extract good practice and promote efficient consultation with the fishing industry. Low
FF.04: Improvement in Environmental Impact Assessment Methodologies Whole fleet Improve the quality of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) practice and assessments related to impacts on commercial fisheries. Medium
Address current data gaps on Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) guidance on fisheries. Studies will contribute to establishing the degree of co-existence possible between commercial fisheries and offshore renewables. High
FF.05: Strategic fisheries management Whole fleet Promote potential synergies in Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Low
FF.06: Underwater noise and vibrations Cod and herring For most fish species the audiograms available are still extremely few and old, or reliant on proxies/surrogates. Audiograms, particularly for species sensitive to sound, would support better impact assessments. Improvement of the evidence base from which modelling methods and impact assessments arise. Hearing specialist species (cod and herring) are specifically mentioned due to existing licence conditions, however this need not be restricted to the two species. High
All species The particle motion element of underwater noise has so far been largely excluded from consideration in EIAs. Existing modelling methods are not considered viable at depths of less than 100m. High
All species Of interest to other receptors too. Opportunistic particle motion monitoring could also be tied in to this work. Medium
FF.07: Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) NA Calculating the strength and dissipation of iE and B fields from cables. If cable design become more standarised a study could have broad application. Medium
Various Limited information regarding shellfish although there have been some studies with AC cables and a recent study looking at American lobster and HVDC cables. Medium
NA To allow consideration of mitigative measures where required. Low
FF.08: Collision risk (tidal turbines) Various To allow assessment of collision risk to marine fish species. If considering Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) this would be a cross receptor group project covering marine mammals, ornithology and diadromous fish species. Medium
FF.09: Accurate spatial -temporal patterns of spawning activity by marine fish species Various Fundamental to EIAs and consideration of mitigation options. Medium
FF.10: Essential Fish Habitat Various Currently used sensitivity maps provide indicative areas. Greater clarification on essential fish habitat would be useful when assessing effects from marine projects. High
FF.11: Reef/ fish aggregation effects Various Understanding potential positive effects – distinguishing between a simple aggregation effect and any benefits in terms of food availability Medium
Various Understanding indirect or negative effects – predator prey- interactions and potential for increased collision for fish or their predators. Medium
FF.12: Inshore populations/distribution Various There is a general paucity of data on fish close to shore, compared to deeper waters where fishery-dependent and IBTS data is plentiful. A better knowledge of fish populations close to shore would be useful when considering near shore activities. This has the potential to be relevant also to other areas such as seaweed harvesting. Medium
FF.13: Cumulative pressures & impact pathways Various Contribute to CIA and overall ecosystem assessments Low
FF.14: Co-existence with Commercial Fisheries Mobile gear that comes into contact with the seabed Understanding potential for demersal towed gear fisheries to resume in operational wind farm sites High
Whole fleet Understanding minimum operating requirements for fishing activities (deploying and hauling gear). High
FF.15: Chemical/toxicity effects Various Understanding chemicals and heavy metal contents within sediments and the water column within offshore wind farms and potential bioaccumulation of heavy metals within the food chain from biofouling/filter feeding organisms to top predators Low



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