October 11th, 2018

Over the next month we will be sharing a series of short blogs from Hannah Fennell, a researcher at the Orkney Fisheries Association who won the International Study Bursary from Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS). Hannah will be sharing stories from her journey which took her around the coastline of Denmark exploring how the local fishing industry build and maintain good relationships.

Fisheries Innovation Scotland are, once again, offering anyone working in the Scottish commercial fishing industry (catching, processing, supply chain, NGO, academia and so on) the opportunity to apply for the bursary and get their own international trip funded. You can use the trip to help develop your career, learn something new and contribute to the sector, the opportunities are endless.

Read on to see where Hannah’s trip took her and click the link to find out how you can apply.




Fishing is hugely important industry for Scotland but it is facing several new challenges: Brexit, climate change, increased demand for marine space and changes in stock levels have thrown the industry into uncertainty. Good communication and good relationships within and between the industry and other maritime sectors is key to overcoming these challenges and finding new, better ways to manage fishing activity and make sure it can be both economically and environmentally sustainable. However, building these relationships can be difficult, especially when there are so many different voices, opinions, and attitudes within the fishing industry.




I visited Denmark with Fisheries Innovation Scotland’s 2017 International Study Bursary to explore how the Danish fishing industry has been able to overcome some of the barriers preventing different groups within its fishing industry from working together and to see what Scotland can learn from these experiences.


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During my journey across Denmark’s incredible coastline I spoke with fishermen, fisheries managers, scientists, buyers, and Producers Organisations and listened to their experiences of good and bad relationships in the industry, trying to find techniques we could use in Scotland. While interviewing them I kept in mind the concept of social capital- the relationships within and between communities that allow them to bond and work together.


There are three types:


  1. Bonding social capital: the relationships within communities. These communities can be physical (such as a fishing town) or symbolic (such as the pelagic fishing fleet)
  2. Bridging social capital: the relationships between communities
  3. Linking social capital: the relationships across scales (e.g. the relationship between a fishing organisation and the government or a research institute)


We can think about social capital with that old analogy of a three-legged stool- each type of social capital is significant, and each is necessary for an overall healthy fishing industry. However, the real difficulty lies not in identifying social capital but in creating it.  This was the first in a series of questions I decided I needed to answer on my trip to Denmark. How are good relationships created? How can we maintain them? How does conflict arise, and how can it be solved? How and when do different groups collaborate? And finally, how is the fishing industry diversifying?

Stay tuned to find more….




If you have questions that you would like answered, and you have somewhere you would like to travel to, Fisheries Innovation Scotland’s International Study Bursary is open for applications now. Apply here:

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