Government funding supports scallop industry breakthrough


A world-first method of catching scallops that offers an alternative to damaging dredging activities has been developed with funding from the government’s Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF).

This new low-impact method, developed by scientists from Devon-based company Fishtek Marine, uses lighted pots called ‘scallop discs’ to attract and catch scallops.

Due to their 200 eyes, scallops have proven to be particularly receptive to lights and naturally move towards them, making lights an effective means of catching large quantities without trawling the seabed. The results indicate that this could replace traditional dredging methods which can have a detrimental effect on valuable marine habitats.

The Seafood Innovation Fund, a multi-million program funded by Defra and implemented by the Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), supports innovative projects in the fisheries, aquaculture and fruit sectors who use advanced technologies or new techniques to limit the impact of fishing on the marine environment.

The Seafood Innovation Fund is part of the £100 million UK Seafood Fund, set up by the government to support the future and long-term sustainability of the UK fishing and seafood sector. It will ensure that the industry is able to process more fish landed in the UK, create more job opportunities in the supply chain, develop the workforce and train new entrants, in order to bring UK coastal communities.

Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said:

It’s great to see Fishtek Marine benefit from our Seafood Innovation Fund and develop a world-first method of catching scallops in an environmentally sustainable way.

Funding supports innovation, helps industry use advanced technology and protects the marine environment. It’s also an important part of upgrading coastal communities – and it’s great to see Devon leading the way.

Suzanna Neville, Seafood Innovation Fund program manager at Cefas, said:

This is an important project that has the potential to make a real difference to the sustainability of the scallop fishery. The opportunity to transform the commercial scallop harvest was made possible by providing funding for the development of early-stage ideas. This is exactly the kind of innovative project that SIF was set up to support, helping the UK lead the way in the development of a sustainable seafood sector.

Dr. Rob Enever of Fishtek Marine, and lead scientist of the study, said:

Support from the Seafood Innovation Fund has been vital to this work. The research simply would not have happened without her. The discovery that scallops can be lured into crab pots using light is a world first. Beyond the UK, the innovation of a new low-impact scallop fishery has applications in scallop fisheries around the world. With continued support from Defra, we look forward to expanding this exciting work and hope that “pot caught scallops” will be a consumer choice of the future!

Fishtek Marine received approximately £245,000 of SIF funding to collect data and test several pot designs, which confirmed that the illuminated light ‘scallop disco’ technique consistently attracts significant numbers of scallops.

Following these promising results, the next steps are to optimize the design of the traps and to develop and manufacture a new low-cost light specific to the operational needs of shellfish fishermen. Further sea trials will then be conducted with the new designs, focusing on crucial factors such as fishing region, light intensity, light color, blink rate and trap efficiency.

Under the umbrella of the £100m UK Seafood Fund, the Seafood Innovation Fund brings together industry, academia and the UK’s wealth of scientific expertise to help the sector become more sustainable for all. levels. Alongside this, the Fishing Industry Science Partnerships (FISP) program is a new boost for science and innovation in the industry, totaling £24 million.

Bids for the next cycle of the Science Partnerships Program with the Fishing Industry and the Seafood Innovation Fund are expected to open this summer. Companies can find more information and how to apply for programs on GOV UK.

Notes to editors:

Fishtek Marine: Based in Totnes Devon, UK, Fishtek Marine is a unique conservation engineering company. The Fishtek Marine team develops, designs, tests, manufactures and distributes a range of innovative fishing technologies that facilitate sustainable fishing, reducing bycatch of cetaceans, turtles, seabirds and sharks.

Cefas: Cefas is the Center for Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Aquaculture. We are an agency of Defra (the Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and world experts in marine science and freshwater. 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 partners abroad. For more information, visit or follow @CefasGovUK. Media inquiries: [email protected]


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