ABOUT AFPO

The AFPO is committed to promoting sustainable fishing methods and protect the environment they work in.

Members of AFPO Ltd are spread across many sectors of our Industry. Broadly speaking they can be categorised into two main groups,

  • Static Gear – Gill nets, Long Lines and Creels
  • Mobile Gear – Twin Rig Trawl, Single Rig Trawl and Seine Net.

Gill Nets are bottom set nets usually along the edge of the continental shelf in pursuit of Monkfish.

Gill nets are monofilament nylon nets that are set on the seabed. The net is held to the seabed by a weighted ‘foot-rope’ and held up by a floating ‘head line.’ The size of mesh and the length of ‘soak time’ is specific to the species being targeted and is governed by detailed legislation. Local fisheries bylaws govern mesh sizes within English fisheries districts, and UK Law govern mesh sizes outside of the 12-mile limit. Gill nets are designed to be selective. Fish smaller than the mesh size are able to pass through unharmed, and those larger than the mesh are deflected away (except in the case of tangle nets). Fish of the correct size are selected as their heads fit through the mesh and they are then caught by the gills (Hence the name gill net).

Long Lines are semi-demersal lines of baited Hooks and can be deployed in many areas that hold stocks of Hake and Ling.

Longlining is a widely used static fishing method that is both efficient and selective. In contrast to other fishing gears, such as trawls and seines, the effectiveness of a longline depends on the construction of the gear and the attractiveness of the bait. The size and shape of the hooks, as well as the length, thickness, and material used for the leaders, are important parameters to consider, whereas many consider bait to be the most crucial element in a longline. For a longline to be effective, the fish in the area must first be attracted to the bait by its smell. In UK and other European  waters, longlines are widely used to target various demersal fish species, especially gadoids such as the European Hake (Merluccius merluccius). When set, a longline consists of a mainline with connected snoods and baited hooks at regular intervals; the line is generally set on or near the bottom and less commonly, in midwater or even close to the surface. Our lines are set at 3 meters to 50 meters above the seabed. Longline vessels traditionally have fully sheltered decks with only a window by the stern for shooting the line and another by the side forward to retrieve the line. These arrangements increase the safety of the vessel and improved the working conditions of the crew. Line-caught fish are of a much higher quality given they are retrieved individually thus avoiding much of the de-scaling and pressure damage cause by active gears. Lower greenhouse gas emissions are just one of the benefits of long-lining. Other advantages are in relation to maintaining seabed integrity but also the significant reduction of unwanted catch.

Mobile Gear as its name suggests is moved along the bottom of the sea to capture fish as it travels. Twin Rig vessels deploy two nets side by side separated by a sledge or ‘clump’ Single Rig vessels only deploy one net but there is similarity between both methods. Tows or the deployment period or similar in both cases and usually last between 2-4 hours. The trawl gear fishes close to the seabed allowing fish that live on the seafloor to enter the mouth of the net. Seine net fishing is more of an encircling technique. A buoy known as a ‘Dan’ is set and the net is paid out in a circle returning to the Dan which is retrieved onto the vessel and the two ends of the rope are wound back onto winches thus encircling the seabed and the fish. This method is recognised as generally more selective and more fuel efficient than trawling.

Selectivity – These are the methods deployed to target specific species and avoid by-catches. The different methods of static and mobile gear have different methods of selectivity.

Long lining creates selectivity by deploying lines at certain depth and with specific bait that attracts the target species. This method is highly selective and the vast majority of landings are Hake and Ling.

Gill Nets are deployed with mesh sizes that allow for the entanglement of larger sized fish allowing smaller species and selections to escape. Our gill netters use gill nets that are above the minimum regulation size for the mesh in order to be more selective.

All static gear vessels use AIS buoys & pingers to avoid by catch interactions.

Mobile gear selectivity is achieved by a combination of large mesh sizes and square mesh panels which are devices that allow the escape of small and juvenile fish.

Our Team

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David Anderson, Chief Executive Officer
35 years in Fisheries Management within sectoral groups. David has worked in all areas of fisheries in Scotland and has been involved in several major projects for example the Discard Ban and the aftermath of the TCA.
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Louise Calder, Administrator
Louise is a very experienced Administrator and office manager both in the oil sector and then taking over from her Mother in the Aberdeen Fish Producers Organisation in  the year 2000.

Our Goals

To manage fish quotas with our members in order to maximise sustainable fishing opportunities.
To increase the value of our members catches by promoting improved quality control procedures by our members.
To represent the views and opinions of our members at local, national and European level on a wide range of issues.

SUSTAINABILITY

In order to be sustainable member vessels use methods such as described above. We have also worked closely with Government and Scientists to create a suit of measures that will enhance the sustainability of the vessel operations.

The static gear fleet has worked closely with St Andrews University on a seabird capture reduction observer program. This allows observed data to show an extremely low level of interaction with seabirds by the longliners. This in part due to the use of Toray Lines which are streamers that are used out of the rear of the vessel above the gear when shooting or hauling. The reduction of deck lighting and the storage of offal stops the vessel being attractive to birds.

Gill Net vessels use electronic devices known as ‘Pingers’ to scare cetaceans away from the gear. There is now an active program to trial Magnets on the gill nets which will repel sharks that may become accidental by-catch.

Mobile gear sustainability apart from selectivity measures mentioned above have agreed spatial measures in the Cod Plan by the Scottish Government and the areas to be designated as Marine Protection Areas (MPA) to enhance the protection of specific Marine features and species.

 Mobile Gear member vessels have contributed financially through the AFPO to allowing the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to scrutinise various fisheries with a view to gaining the MSC certification and the use of the Blue Badge to assure customers of the sustainability of its product.

The Certificate covers Haddock, Saithe, Plaice, Hake and Whiting. Further Information is available through the MSC Website.

Vessels in membership have been participating in the collection of data for scientific analysis to assist in creating robust advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea that determines the outcomes of the amount of fish (quota) that can be safely extracted from a stock so as ensure sustainability.

All data collection is undertaken under strict protocols and observed catches in collaboration with Marine Scotland Science.

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SCOTTISH SEAS

A CO-OPERATIVE OF SCOTTISH FISHERMEN, WORKING TOGETHER TO BRING THE BEST OF WILD SCOTTISH SEAFOOD TO THE WORLD IN A WAY THAT SUSTAINS OUR HOME COMMUNITIES AND THE SEAS WE DEPEND UPON.

Our Fishermen catch a variety of North Atlantic species such as haddock, cod, saithe (Atlantic pollock), hake, monkfish, plaice, megrim, scallops, langoustines and more. We currently supply markets in the UK as well as across the EU and North America. Our boats fish under strict environmental and social guidelines. We have three fisheries currently certified by the MSC and we comply with the UK's Responsible Fishing Scheme.
Towns and villages along the Scottish coastline have had an interdependent relationship with the sea for centuries. We have always relied on the sea for our livelihoods, and the health of the sea now relies on us to manage what we take responsibly.
A fishing community is more than the income of individual boats. It’s the people who work at the docks and ready the fish for market. It’s the person who brings the ice. The one who fillets the fish. The one who drives the truck taking it further on. It’s the shop in town where folks by their supplies and the local school too.
Creating a fishermen-owned brand of wild Scottish seafood, brought to market with the highest standards of sustainability, can help preserve the health of stocks and our communities, for generations to come.