In response to mounting concern around climate change, the Scottish Government has set targets to achieve net zero by 2045, and through the Future Fisheries Management (FFM) Strategy 2020-2030 to support the fishing industry `to take action to mitigate the sector's climate change related impacts. The overarching aim of the FFM Strategy is to ensure that fishing is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. The transition to net zero will be challenging for the fishing sector, which relies heavily on fossil fuels, but also presents an opportunity to create a positive impact. This study aimed to identify interventions undertaken in Scotland, the United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) (2010 – 2021) to reduce climate related impacts from the marine wild capture fisheries sector. This information can help shape best practice within the fishing industry, while building more resilient businesses and supply chains that support sustainable, local and rural economies.
A comprehensive literature review identified specific interventions taken in Scotland, the UK and EU to reduce the climate related impacts of the marine wild capture fisheries sector. The outputs of the literature review were complemented with a series of stakeholder interviews to collate information and opinions of direct experiences, including any challenges (perceived or experienced) and opportunities with regards to reducing fisheries impacts on climate change. By comparing interventions aimed at reducing the impact of fisheries on climate change in Scotland, with those elsewhere, it was possible to identify key gaps in the Scottish approach. These results were synthesised to provide recommendations for actions that could be most effective in Scotland at reducing the climate impacts associated with marine wild capture fisheries.
This synthesis will help to elucidate the policy options available to reduce climate change impacts while ensuring business viability, sustainability and resilience. Building an understanding of the way the Scottish fisheries sector impacts the climate will help deliver the best results for the Scottish marine environment, its fishing industry and its fishing communities. Altogether, this represents the first step in producing an evidence-base in support of a 'climate-smart' fishing industry, understanding the avenues by which fisheries and fishers can prepare for a net zero target.
The literature review identified eight key areas where potential changes in fisheries practices could be implemented. These are:
1. Fossil fuel consumption; efforts to reduce consumption and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from fishing vessels.
2. Alternative energy; Cleaner energy supply for fish and shellfish processing.
3. Selectivity; the use of more selective and efficient methods of fishing.
4. Local Markets; better use of local markets, reducing food miles and associated GHG emissions.
5. Reducing waste; efforts to reduce waste/gear loss, thereby reducing marine litter and GHG emissions.
6. Refrigerants; measures taken to reduce the contribution of refrigerants to GHG emissions.
7. Stock resilience; measures to improve stock resilience to climate change.
8. Consumer behaviour; efforts to change consumer behaviour.
Scotland and its fisheries are involved in many interventions that could reduce the sector's impact on climate change, but the results of these actions are often not recorded, reported or publicly available. Enhancing coherence in target setting for data collection, and greater transparency in data collection, analysis and reporting will help demonstrate to policy makers, the industry and the public the benefits of progressive change while also increasing policy makers understanding of quantifiable outcomes.
In addition, demonstrating the value and efficacy of such changes could help drive a shift in consumer behaviour, boosting local consumption of Scottish seafood and help strengthen the positive feedback loop between production and consumption.
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