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Michael Gove announces technology fund to ‘revolutionise’ the fishing industry

Trawler fishing off the coast of Scotland.
Trawler fishing off the coast of Scotland.

A call to action has been issued to tech firms and engineers to help “revolutionise” the fishing industry through artificial intelligence and “smart boats”.

Fishermen and industry experts have been asked to come together and bid for cash to develop innovative ways of making fishing more environmentally sustainable and productive.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, announcing the £10 million seafood innovation fund yesterday, said the scheme would “secure fisheries for the future”.

UK businesses are already developing satellite technology and virtual watch rooms to track vessel movements and integrating lighting into fishing nets to reduce unwanted catch and improve efficiency.

But with the global fishing industry worth nearly £300 billion, the UK Government say this fund will encourage further technological development and unlock export opportunities around the world for UK technology pioneers.

Mr Gove said: “This government is investing record amounts in research and development, with this £10 million fund further driving UK innovation.

“As the UK establishes itself as an independent coastal state, the seafood innovation fund will bring together our world-leading fishing, seafood and technology industries to deliver more sustainable and productive fisheries for the future.”

Opportunities for innovation will cover all parts of the seafood sector, from catch techniques and fish feed to the management of fisheries.

Dr Joanna Cox, head of policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “This fund is a ‘call to action’ for fishermen and engineers to work together to bring forward sustainable and productive solutions at scale to the industry’s greatest challenges.

“Technology continues to deliver transformational change across the food sector – for instance, boosting the UK farming sector through AI and robotics.

“We urge the UK engineering community to apply the same pioneering zeal to positively impact the UK’s seafood industries through this fund.”

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