The world’s first method of catching scallops, which offers an alternative to harmful dredging work, was developed with funding from the government’s Innovation Fund for Seafood (SIF).

This new low-impact method, founded by scientists from Devon-based Fishtek Marine, uses backlit pots called “scallop discos” to attract and catch scallops.

Due to the presence of 200 eyes scallops were particularly sensitive to light and naturally moved towards them, making lights an effective means of catching large quantities without trawling the seabed. The results show that this can replace traditional dredging techniques, which can have a detrimental effect on valuable marine habitats.

The Seafood Innovation Fund, a multimillion-dollar program funded by Defra and implemented by the Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Cefas), supports innovative projects in fisheries, aquaculture and seafood that use advanced technologies or new methods to limit the impact of fisheries.

The Innovation Fund for Seafood is less than £ 100 million UK Seafood Fund, created by the government to support the long-term future and sustainability of the UK fisheries and seafood sector. This ensures that the industry will be able to process more fish planted in the UK, create more jobs across the supply chain and upgrade the workforce and train new entrants to raise the level of coastal communities across the UK.

Minister of Fisheries Victoria Prentiss said:

It is gratifying to see that Fishtek Marine benefits from our innovation fund in the field of seafood and is developing the world’s first method of catching scallops in an environmentally sustainable way.

Funding supports innovation, helps the industry use cutting-edge technology and protects the marine environment. It’s also an important part of the alignment of coastal communities – and it’s nice to see Devon leading.

Suzanne Neville, manager of the Seafood Innovation Fund program at Cefas, said:

This is an important project that can really affect the sustainability of the scallop fishery. The opportunity to transform the commercial production of scallops was made possible by funding the development of ideas at an early stage. This is exactly the innovative project to support SIF, which is helping the UK to become a leader in the development of a sustainable seafood sector.

Dr Rob Enever of Fishtek Marine and a leading research scientist said:

The support of the Innovation Fund for Seafood was vital for this work. Without this research simply would not have happened. The discovery that scallops can be attracted to crab pots with light was the first in the world. Outside the UK, innovations in new low-impact scallop fisheries are finding application in scallop fishing worldwide. With the constant support of Defra, we look forward to the development of this exciting work and hope that the “scallops” that got into the pot will become the consumer choice of the future!

Fishtek Marine has received around £ 245,000 from SIF for data collection and testing of several pot designs, which has confirmed that the “backlit disco” technique is constantly attracting a significant number of scallops.

Following these promising results, next steps include optimizing the design of the trap and developing and manufacturing a new low-cost fixture that meets the needs of crustacean fishermen. Further marine tests will be conducted with new designs, focusing on important factors such as fishing region, light intensity, light color, flicker frequency and trap efficiency.

The £ 100 million Seafood Innovation Fund brings together industry, academia and the UK’s rich scientific expertise to help the sector become more sustainable at all levels. Along with this the Fisheries Science Partnership Scheme (FISP) is an additional incentive for science and innovation in the industry, totaling £ 24 million.

Applications for participation in the next round of the Fisheries Science Partnership Scheme and the Innovation Fund for Seafood are due to open this summer. Businesses can learn more about how to apply for GOV UK schemes.

Notes to editors:

Fishtek Marine: Fishtek Marine, based in Totnes Devon, UK, is a unique conservation engineering company. The Fishtek Marine team develops, develops, tests, manufactures and distributes a range of innovative fishing technologies that promote sustainable fishing by reducing by-catches of cetaceans, turtles, seabirds and sharks.

Cefas: Cefas is the Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture. We are the agency of Defra (Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the world’s leading experts in marine and freshwater sciences. We help keep our seas, oceans and rivers healthy and productive, and our seafood safe and sustainable by providing data and advice to the government and our foreign partners. For more information, visit www.cefas.co.uk or follow @CefasGovUK. Media inquiries: communications@cefas.co.uk

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-funding-backs-scallop-fishing-industry-breakthrough

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