Impact and next steps
The BATmap pilot project was launched in January 2020 and concluded in December 2020, with the mobile app being used from June onwards.
During the pilot, over 1,800 catch reports were submitted by thirteen participating vessels, and by-catch alerts were triggered for cod and spurdog on 67 and 22 occasions, respectively.
The vessels participating in the BATmap pilot catch over 70% of the cod landed in the west coast of Scotland; this maximises the amount of information being used for mapping ‘hotspots’ where by-catch is likely to be high.
The success of the BATmap pilot is reflected in the fact that the app continues to be routinely used by the participating fishers. The pilot project has enabled them to see the long term value of sharing information with each other to reduce by-catch, and they are eager to see BATmap continue to develop new capabilities.
Key to this success has been the co-design approach used to develop the BATmap app and project. Fishers found BATmap easy to use, with several useful features, and it was straightforward to adapt the software to suit their operational requirements and security concerns.
The inclusion of spurdog was an especially successful byproduct of the co-design approach. More effective avoidance of this species benefits conservation goals and decreases damage to fishing gear.
The BATmap project received the Sustainability Award 2021, sponsored by the Fishmongers’ Company and Fishing News UK. The award recognises and rewards outstanding innovation and achievement towards improving sustainability and environmental responsibility within the UK or Irish fishing industries in 2020. It aims to recognise projects that:
In addition to this recognition, the BATmap project continues to enjoy broad industry support. The Producer Organisations that supported the pilot project remain committed to continuing the application of BATmap on the West Coast of Scotland, and have provided additional funding for the second phase of development.
Looking ahead - BATmap Phase 2
Phase 2 of development has begun and will be completed by the end of 2021.
It will maintain and refine BATmap and associated databases while also developing tools that assist in the reporting and dissemination of information.
Based on their experience during the pilot project, participating skippers identified and proposed several improvements that could be made, and these will be implemented as part of Phase 2.
Building on our successful co-design approach
Throughout Phase 2 the project team will continue dialogue with skippers and Producer Organisations to collate ideas for improving BATmap, and will investigate further opportunities for widening the use of real-time reporting by the Scottish fishing industry.
A key aim is to develop an improved data governance policy in order to increase skippers’ trust in how data are shared and used.
A workshop, bringing together US and Scottish counterparts to discuss the ongoing use of real-time reporting in Alaska and Scotland and what can be learned from each other’s experience of reducing by-catch, is also planned.
The real innovation of BATmap is in demonstrating that skippers can share sensitive catch data for their collective benefit under the right set of conditions.
As participating skippers become more experienced applying real-time data analytics to deciding when and where to fish, they will see new opportunities for using technology to benefit fishing operations and deliver sustainable fishing.