An EMFF funded project led by the University of St Andrews (MASTS) (2017 – 2020)

The three-year project involving industry, academia and government aimed at improving fisheries management has now published its conclusions.

The project saw more than 130 vessel skippers in 43 ports around Scotland host research trips, test tracking and/or scanning devices installed, undertake surveys and significantly contribute to equipment and software development relating to inshore fisheries management. All the work undertaken and findings have been written into final Work Package reports. Work Packages are outlined below.

Dr Mark James, SIFIDS Project Leader from University of St Andrews, said:

From the outset the project was a real team effort involving project partners: Seascope Fisheries Research, Imani Development, SAMS Research Services Limited (SRSL), and the North Atlantic Fisheries College (NAFC). Our three Facilitators were instrumental in positively engaging with industry throughout the project.
So far the SIFIDS project has produced real practical outputs that can, and have, been taken forward, including the Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot that is currently trialling the SIFIDS low-cost tracking system to assist with fisheries management decision making. We have also, through the Seafood Innovation Fund, started to develop the prototypic scanning system (AS3ID) into an operational device.

For any inquiries about the Project please contact Hannah Ladd-Jones (SIFIDS Project Manager).


  • Read Marine Scotland’s summary blog post about the project concluding here
  • To read the project’s summary newsletter distributed to the fishers who participated in the project click here
  • To download the SIFIDS Project information brochure click here

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) allocated £1.53 million of funding to support research into the development of an integrated system for the collection, collation, analysis and interrogation of data from the Scottish inshore fishing fleet. The project focussed on developing a decision support tool that would utilise information gathered upon inshore fishing vessels to inform fisheries management and marine planning. A key aim for SIFIDS was to create a system that would be relatively inexpensive to deploy and operate, be highly flexible, have the capacity to engage with industry and utilise industry derived data collection as far as possible, whilst providing a robust and objective evidence base for use by inshore stakeholders. The SIFIDS Project built upon previous research funded through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and was designed to deliver a step change in the way that inshore fisheries in Scotland could be managed in cooperation with the industry. The project focused on inshore fishing vessels around Scotland, where spatio-temporal information on the distribution of vessels and associated fishing effort is data deficient.

The SIFIDS Project was conceived by the MASTS Directorate to align with the three key elements highlighted in the 2015 Scottish Inshore Fisheries Strategy, which were:

  • enhancement of the evidence base on which management decisions are taken;
  • promotion of stakeholder participation, and;
  • the incorporation of inshore fisheries activities within spatial marine planning.


The SIFIDS Project was subdivided into highly integrated “Work Packages” (WPs) which focused on the development of various aspects of the system and/or the collection of data relating to the inshore sector. The remaining two WPs encompassed the engagement of the inshore industry and overall project coordination and oversight. The majority of project WPs actively and successfully engaged with the inshore fishing industry for their research.

  • Spring 2017 Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups Newsletter with an article on the SIFIDS Project – click to view
  • Article on the SIFIDS Project – Fishing News, 5th January 2017 – click to view


SIFIDS Project Work Packages – Objectives and Final Reports

Read the final report here

Objective: WP1 will involve a review of current and potential data collection frameworks and stock assessment programmes in order to propose an optimisation strategy for data collection for Scottish Inshore Fisheries.  Efficient and statistically robust methods will be developed to analyse industry derived/sampled data which could potentially contribute to statutory assessments for fisheries management purposes, or wider uses within the marine environment such as marine spatial planning.

Successful Applicant: NAFC Marine Centre

Deliverables: NAFC will undertake a review and evaluation of current stock assessment methodologies within the context of Scottish inshore fisheries, quantifying the risks or uncertainties associated with each method. Analysis using a cost-benefit framework will be performed regarding the introduction of an optimised data collection and stock assessment strategy for inshore shellfish based on a range of potential management goals. Research will focus on brown crab (Cancer pagurus), lobster (Homarus gammarus) and dredged King scallop (Pecten maximus) as three commercially exploited shellfish species specified within the UK Programme of Measures for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The outputs of WP1 will directly assist in prioritising the deployment of future sampling effort, in particular, any second phase deployment of systems and processes developed under WP2 and WP3 of the SIFIDS Project.

Read the final report here (combined with 2b)

Objective: The development and optimisation of a systematic approach to the acquisition, harvesting and collation of fisheries data leading to the production of a cost-effective On Board Central Data Collation System (OBCDCS) designed to harvest, store and forward a wide range of data streams from vessels operating in the Scottish inshore fisheries fleet.

Successful Applicant: SeaScope Fisheries Research Ltd.

Deliverables: SeaScope will liaise with project partners to identify the key fisheries data streams to be collected while undertaking a comprehensive review of current technical options for development of the On Board Central Data Collation System. SeaScope will then design, construct and test various prototypes before agreeing a final specification. The agreed system will then undergo sea trials on 15 inshore vessels over a period of 6 months to demonstrate the OBCDCS’s ability to capture data and link to the devices or data streams resulting from the research conducted under WP2B, WP3 and potentially WP5. In addition, SeaScope will also investigate target systems/mechanisms by which collated data may be transmitted from the OBCDCS and assess the technical requirements to make such transmission possible.

Read the final report here (combined with 2a)

Objective: The identification of novel technological options for the development of a cost-effective, automated, systematic approach to the acquisition of fisheries and biological data for lobster and crab on board 12m and under inshore fishing vessels.

Successful Applicant: SeaScope Fisheries Research Ltd.

Deliverables: SeaScope will conduct an initial review of existing technologies and identify those that could be utilised for the autonomous collection of catch data on small inshore fishing vessels targeting brown crab and lobster. The research undertaken will primarily focus on determining practical solutions for the automated, high throughput capture of spatially defined data. Depending on the results of this technology review further information gathering in the form of dockside and at-sea surveys of 50 volunteer inshore vessels will be performed to identify the operating procedures, fishing activities and deck layouts employed as well as any common factors between vessels. This information will then be used to design a deck based data collection tool able to capture species, sex, length and catch quantity data as well as indicators of fishing effort and the fate of catch (i.e. whether it is retained or discarded) for transmission to the OBCDCS developed under SeaScope. 

Read the final report here

Objective: To assess the potential of developing more cost effective, automated methods for scallop stock assessment.

Successful Applicant: University of St Andrews

Deliverables: WP3 consists of an evaluation of the potential of utilising novel, automated technologies for the collection of scallop stock data for the purposes of stock assessment. This evaluation will comprise a three part approach incorporating a desk-based review of current state-of-art remote survey methods for scallop resources, followed by limited sea-trials of three methodologies determined as best representing the different approaches currently available for remote survey. The third component will involve an appraisal of tests and methods with respect to industry capacity and cost effectiveness. The research will be led by experts at the University of St Andrews and involve the Scottish Association of Marine Science, Dunstaffnage and industry partners.

Read the final report here

Objective: To establish a new set of qualitative and quantitative data on the social, economic and cultural drivers of inshore fisheries.

Successful Applicant: SAMS Research Services Ltd. (SRSL)

Deliverables: The aim of WP4 is to supply an analytical framework and a clear conceptual and detailed description, citing extensive quantitative and interview evidence, to explain the drivers of a resilient inshore fisheries industry. SRSL will develop consultation surveys and a sampling programme to gather evidence from a range of sources including semi-structured interviews with individuals involved in the inshore industry. This mixed-method approach will be employed to produce case studies with high resolution data that provide detailed contextual information on the behaviour, familial and working relationships, beliefs and motivations and drivers for fishing activities by the Scottish inshore sector. The framework produced by SRSL will be designed to be repeatable for future updating and further studies.

Read the final report here

update: The SIFIDS FISH1 App trial has now finished and will no longer be supported or maintained by SIFIDS, University of St Andrews. For this reason, Marine Scotland Compliance and SIFIDS recommend that you do not continue to rely on the app to submit your FISH1forms in case these are not received by the Fishery Office or do not fully meet your statutory reporting requirements. If you have been using the App and have any concerns please contact your local Fishery Office or one of the SIFIDS facilitators.

Objective: To develop protocols for capturing observational and experiential data from fishers while investigating potential mechanisms to address the negative perception of the inshore industry to reporting and information requests from fisheries managers and policymakers.

Successful Applicant: University of St Andrews (MASTS)

Deliverables: A significant potential fisheries data resource exists in the form of fisher derived anecdotal and experiential information. This resource remains largely untapped by the fisheries management and science communities due to the inherent difficulties in verifying (i.e. Quality Assuring) and parameterising this type of data. The WP5 team assembled by MASTS will seek to clearly define parameters for the collection of fisher experiential information through interviews and workshops. There will be particular emphasis on collecting information on the interaction of inshore fisheries with key vulnerable species (for example protected, endangered and threatened species (PETS)) together with other observations related to the size, health and reproductive status of the catch. The team will investigate and develop an appropriate sampling design/methodology to facilitate the streaming of experiential information to the relational data resource developed under WP6. Utilising the data collected along with existing sources of information the WP5 team will also seek to develop risk maps for possible interactions between inshore vessels and PETS and depending on industry feedback may also investigate the development of a mobile reporting app for use by inshore fishermen.

Read the final report here

Objective: To produce an integrated platform for the handling, processing, and analysis of spatio-temporal vessel and other relevant data streams that can be easily accessed and interrogated by fisheries managers, marine planners, scientists and potentially individual fishermen.

Successful Applicant: SeaScope Fisheries Research Ltd.

Deliverables: The SeaScope team will construct a fully documented, open source relational database designed to receive and collate the information gathered by the various data collection components of the SIFIDS. This will include, but not be limited to, detailed positional data, vessel characteristics, fishing effort data and biological catch parameters.  The envisaged system will be flexible enough to accommodate other supplemental (and potentially external) data streams, for example habitat or economic data, as well as the parameterised experiential data collected under WP5 and information on fisher based decision making processes (WP8B). As part of the development process SeaScope will draft data sharing agreements for all partners and data users as well as produce a suite of common database queries, defined through consultation with Marine Scotland, and where applicable other stakeholders.

Read final report here

Objective: A prototypic open source PostGreSQL ( relational database together with a web-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) was created under Work Package 6 (WP6). This report should be read as a supplement to the WP6 Final Report. 

Author: University of St Andrews

Deliverables: The report documents the:

  1. Selection criteria and functionality of the low-cost tracking device
  2. Structure of the upgraded WP6 relational database
  3. Advanced Programming Interface (API) to link the tracker and the database
  4. GUI development to enable tiered access to the database together with example outputs
Read the final report here

Objective: The Project Facilitators will act as the point-of-contact between WP contractors, fishermen, industry bodies and other stakeholders who are participating in the studies, as well as the Project Coordination Team. They will be responsible for recruiting vessels to participate in the project and will assist with design and distribution of questionnaires for WP1, WP2 and WP4.

Successful Applicant: Agroecosystems Ltd.

Deliverables: During the 2014/15 EFF funded project “Evidence Gathering in Support of Sustainable Scottish Inshore Fisheries” over 300 inshore fishermen were directly involved in the research. This participation took the form of 274 under 12m vessels voluntarily reported positional data via AIS, the skippers and crew of 11 vessels self-reporting catch data and trialing electronic monitoring equipment and numerous others providing input into two economics/market-based WPs.  The proactive engagement of the inshore fishing sector by the two Project Facilitators during the previous EFF inshore project and their collation of industry feedback were fundamental to its success. Given the success of this dedicated grassroots method to industry engagement and information dissemination it was decided at an early stage to incorporate the same approach into the SIFIDS Project in the form of a dedicated WP.

Under WP7 the Project Facilitators will contribute to the production of promotional material, organise and attending industry meetings, recruit vessels to participate in data collection and equipment trials, establish and maintain a list of contacts relevant to the project, as well as act as the primary point-of-contact between WP teams, fishermen, industry bodies and any other stakeholders participating in the studies.

Read the final report here

Objective: To provide the on board surveyor aspect of WP8, namely to carry out assessments of 105 12m and under inshore fishing vessels with the goal of collecting detailed information on fishing activity to feed into the modelling activity under WP8B.

Successful Applicant: SeaScope Fisheries Research Ltd.

Deliverables: The SeaScope team will undertake surveyor sea trips on 105 12m and under inshore vessels (likely 50 East coast, 35 West coast and islands, 20 Shetland). They will conduct structured on-board assessments of fishing vessel operations and collect data on fishing effort, catch and the skipper’s decision making process. The information gathered by the surveyors will be submitted daily to the WP8B team where it will be combined with AIS/GPS garnered vessel movement data to facilitate the ‘fingerprinting’ of fishing activity through the precise characterisation (via statistical methods) of the various behaviours adopted by inshore fishing vessels.

Read the final report here

Objective: The WP8B team seeks to define individual vessel activity profiles characterising the prosecution of specific inshore fisheries. These profiles will facilitate the use of behavioural modelling techniques to help understand and predict the potential impacts of change on inshore fishing activity.

Successful Applicant: University of St Andrews (MASTS)

Deliverables: Defining vessel activity profiles will allow established behavioural modelling techniques to be applied to help understand, predict, and thereby potential mitigate the impacts on inshore fishing activity of, for example, stock variations, catch price and spatial restrictions such as Marine Protected Areas. Developing these statistical methods will allow the precise identification of fishing events which will provide insights into the spatio-temporal dynamics of fish resources, the impact of fishing pressure on marine ecosystems, and inform our understanding of the displacement of fishing activities with respect to fisheries management and marine spatial planning. A critical feature of WP8B is the acquisition and use of both fishing activity profiles together with other potential drivers, including human factors, meteorological and hydrographic conditions, markets and seasonal changes in target species. By developing these “fisher centric” behavioural models, there is the potential to develop predictive capability as part of a decision support tool for policy, regulation, compliance and business planning.

Read the final report here

Objective: WP10 is exclusively focused on the overall co-ordination of the SIFIDS Project. The Project Co-ordination Team is responsible for overseeing the strategic delivery of the EMFF project through the proactive oversight and co-ordination of the individual work package teams.

Successful Applicant: University of St Andrews (MASTS)

Deliverables: As part of the approach adopted under the 2014/15 EFF funded project ‘Evidence Gathering in Support of Sustainable Scottish Fisheries’ provision was made for a work stream dedicated to the overall co-ordination and management of the project. This proactive strategy proved highly effective and, alongside the Project Facilitators, was instrumental in the successful delivery of the project and the dissemination of its outputs to industry. This same approach will be replicated under the SIFIDS Project with the MASTS Directorate based at the University of St Andrews fulfilling the role of the SIFIDS Project Co-ordination Team (PCT).

To understand more about how the SIFIDS Project came to be commissioned please watch the short animated video below

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