Project Name: Scottish Inshore Fisheries Integrated Data System (SIFIDS)
Client: University of St. Andrews (and European Maritime Fisheries Fund)
Location: Inshore Fishing communities throughout Scotland
Time Span: December 2016 – June 2019


About the SIFIDS project

Marine scientists from the University of St Andrews secured funding to develop an integrated system for collecting and analysing data from the Scottish inshore fishing fleet. The Scottish Inshore Fisheries Integrated Data System (SIFIDS) is a large European Maritime and Fisheries Fund sponsored project led by the University of St Andrews.

Scotland’s inshore fisheries support a large and varied industry although with little formalised or replicable data on socio-economic and cultural characteristics of the sector. As part of the SIFIDS project, Imani Development was tasked with understanding and quantifying the social, cultural and economic value of the inshore fishing industry in Scotland.

The aims of the wider SIFIDS project were to really understand what data systems and information can be gleaned about the sector and what information is required for the future. Imani’s role within the project was to undertake industry analysis including measuring the sectors economic performance, the operational business models within the sector, measuring inputs from public bodies and demonstrating impact. Evaluation of inshore fisheries economic multiplier effect on the regional and national economy was also undertaken. Imani were also involved in the interview process which informed the development of a national survey which was sent out to all registered inshore fishers in Scotland.

Project Objectives

The overall objective of the work package within the SIFIDS project was to provide a robust quantitative assessment of the economic, social and cultural footprint of the inshore fisheries sector in Scotland. The aim was to address the lack of comprehensive descriptive frameworks, defined datasets and analysis to describe the economic, social and cultural dimensions of inshore fisheries. The main interest was to understand the benefits and impacts more generally of different value chains in inshore fishing communities throughout Scotland and how they can inform policy and fisheries management. This required developing a conceptual framework that could capture complex cultural, social and economic relationships.

Project Overview and Key Findings

Primary socio-economic and cultural research was conducted to fill the data gaps in order to capture complex cultural, social and economic relationships in a usable and useful manner. The primary data was collected through 50 in-depth interviews and a national survey (over 130 responses) with fishers and people in the communities and throughout the value chain in four regions in Scotland was analysed using the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework combined with a Market Systems Approach. Our methodology was very similar to what we would apply in our work in Malawi, Kenya and all across the  African continent. This was a new approach for people in Scotland and they found it to be a very rich tapestry that opens up a new understanding of social and economic impacts.

There were a number of data capturing elements involved, but this research specifically focused on the social and economic cultural characteristics from coastal communities and marine economy value chains. The research established that every fishing community has deep cultural and social connections and historical traditions. Although fishermen traditionally fished in inshore waters, nowadays it is becoming increasingly important for fishermen to show where they have been fishing so that they can demonstrate for example that they are not damaging the environment. Ten years ago, they were quite reluctant to tell people where they fish because that was kind of their own knowledge, now they are much keener to be able to demonstrate that they have been doing it and should be allowed to continue. It has gone from an understanding of data and the cautious approach to an understanding of data as something that will help them in the sustainability of their business. As such there’s an environmental and economic dimension in terms of understanding how much of value there is to the economy and to livelihoods.


Key Lessons:

The key take – aways from this project were:

1. Cultural relevance and cultural and social questions are very important to understanding the dynamics that there is a value chain aspect which is essential to understand and for making this informed decision about the sustainability and survival of key sectors.

2. More time and effort needs to be focused on the development of the supply chain in order to determine the intricacies and regional differences in the different routes to markets as this is a crucial part in understand motivators and drivers. We were very keen to speak to processors, their attitude to pricing, sourcing and what the rest of the market was doing. You have one part of the value chain which is the production and then a whole host of areas like processing, supply of input. All of these things need to be seen to get that rich picture.

3. More often than not, people conclude that cities are the engines of growth and the periphery areas like rural and coastal areas – where roads and other infrastructure are not very good – are the beneficiaries in the economy. However, in this research this misconception was reversed as in many cases, the initial primary production was coming from the periphery areas instead of the cities.

Read or download the full report here