Design, development and deployment of a software platform for real-time reporting in the west of Scotland demersal fleet: FIS032

C. Tara Marshall, Paul Macdonald, Eric Torgerson, Josephine Asare, Rachel Turner

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In this report the term real-time reporting (RTR) refers to a semi-automated communication system used by a group of collaborating fishing vessels for the sharing of bycatch observations to identify areas having high probability of
bycatch and alert fishers about the location of these areas. RTR has been used on the west coast in fisheries in Alaska and Pacific Northwest for over 20 years to successfully reduce bycatch. FIS011B had previously outlined the use of RTR in US fisheries and evaluated the potential for its application in Scottish
fisheries. Following the full implementation of the Landing Obligation in January 2019 the demersal fishery on the west of Scotland (ICES VIa) was incentivised to adopt innovations that would be effective in reducing bycatch of cod and
whiting both of which were at risk of being choke species. Buy-in from several west of Scotland fishers and the producer organisations they belonged to satisfied a necessary pre-condition for trialling RTR in Scottish waters.
FIS032 was awarded to design, develop and deploy RTR software for the Scottish demersal fleet operating in the west of Scotland with co-funding from the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation, Scottish White Fish Producers Association,
Seafish and the University of Aberdeen. Several key operational features were co-designed by participating fishers to reflect their tolerance for sharing information including a request for spurdog to be included, in addition to cod and whiting. The RTR software BATmap (Bycatch Avoidance Tool using mapping; ) was launched in June 2020 with the pilot study concluding in December 2020. At the end of the pilot study, thirteen vessels belonging to four producer organisations were using BATmap. Over 1,800 catch reports had been submitted by these vessels and bycatch alerts had been triggered for cod and spurdog on over 67 and 22 occasions, respectively.
Following the pilot study, eight participating fishers were interviewed about their experience of using BATmap. Overall, interviewees felt they had contributed to the design of the app, which they find very easy to use. The bycatch maps
and automated catch entry reminders were both perceived to be very useful features. There is some evidence that the alert maps generated and disseminated by BATmap following a high bycatch elicited a tactical response (moving on), however, the pilot study was of short duration to provide conclusive evidence. Five of the interviewees indicated that they were more willing to share bycatch data because of their experience with the remainder experiencing no
change. Several interviewees felt that it is important to increase confidence in the accuracy of data being shared and that the gradual experience of tangible personal benefits from their bycatch data may help to develop this confidence.
Although FIS032 has concluded, BATmap continues to be routinely used at sea by the participating fishers who are committed to building on the work done in the pilot study and eager to see BATmap develop through 2021 and onward. The Producer Organisations are also committed to the application of RTR on the west of Scotland and willing to co-fund maintenance and refinement of software, data storage and development of a data governance policy in 2021. Part of the programme of work in 2021 will include developing a five-year strategic plan for the use of RTR by the Scottish fishing industry.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherFisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS)
Number of pages39
ISBN (Print)978-1-911123-19-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

We thank the co-funders (FIS, SFO, Scottish White Fish Producers Association, Seafish and the University of Aberdeen), the participating POs and the participating fishers for being willing to take a chance on RTR. Critical early support was given by D. Anderson (Aberdeen Fish Producers Organisation) and M. Park (SWFPA). K. Haflinger (Sea State Inc., Seattle, USA) generously shared valuable insights about the use of RTR on the west coast. C. Asare is thanked for his concerted efforts trying to “catch” fishers to be interviewed in 2019. C. Needle (Marine Scotland Science) kick-started interest in mapping unwanted catch of juvenile cod in the North Sea.


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