New Fisheries Centre of Excellence Launched

19 May 2021

A picture of fish under water with the sun shining through from above.

With fundamentally important scientific questions and issues still remaining to be tackled in the coming years, Cefas’ new Fisheries International Centre of Excellence (ICoE) launched today aims to become the international go-to source of advice for successful fisheries management. 

Defra Chief Fisheries Science Advisor, Dr Carl O’ Brien CBE said: 

”As we enter the UN Decade of Ocean Science and this marine “Super Year”, the need for excellent fisheries science and advice is more apparent than ever, both in the UK and overseas. The requirement for impartial, robust, evidence-based advice relating to both target and bycatch species is crucial as society seeks to ensure the sustainable management of our fishery resources, the livelihoods of our fishing and coastal communities, and the health and diversity of the life under water.”  

Newly appointed Fisheries ICoE Director Dr Jim Ellis said: 

Our mission is to provide essential fisheries expertise and capability for HM Government and help ensure that the UK meets fisheries responsibilities as an independent coastal state. We aim to strengthen critical links between fisheries monitoring, data, resource assessment and advice. Through the Centre we will increase the scale and impact of Cefas fisheries science; providing a recognised target for investment and opportunities for focused career development in fisheries science.  

The key objectives of the Centre will be to:  

  • Advance, apply and share expertise in fisheries science and advice to further fisheries sustainability. 
  • Showcase and strengthen Cefas’ end-to-end and quality-assured support for successful fisheries management. 
  • Provide a focus for ongoing technical support and guidance to meet the needs of partner institutions and countries.  

Key to the work of the Centre are four key science pillars: (i) the collection of high-quality data, (ii) quality assurance and stewardship of both historic and contemporary data, (iii) robust data analyses, including novel approaches to assessing and understanding the status of fish and shellfish stocks, and (iv) scientific outputs, which include contributions to ICES Working Groups, peer-reviewed publications and advice to Governments and other relevant bodies

Sally Songer, Quality Lead for the new Centre said: 

The Fisheries International Centre of Excellence is a reflection of the expertise, skill and dedication of all the contributing staff. From collecting data at the fish market at the crack of dawn, or on a rolling vessel, right through to our senior colleagues providing advice in fisheries negotiations, we all have a role in maintaining the Centre’s excellence.” 

The Centre will complement Cefas’ three existing International Centres of Excellence, which recognise international science excellence and leadership across aquatic animal health, seafood safety and climate change.  International Centres of Excellence provide capability for Cefas and HM Government and provide a target for R&D investment. They also provide legacy as a focus for ongoing technical assistance and guidance to partner institutions and countries. In addition to Dr Jim Ellis, new Directors Professor Ed Peeler and Dr Wendy Higman have also been appointed this month to drive forward the work undertaken by the Aquatic Animal Health and Seafood Safety Centres, respectively.