A host of projects will help sec­tor achieve its full po­ten­tial

Fish Farmer - - Contents – Editor’s Welcome - BY NICKI HOLM­YARD

Nicki Holm­yard

THE Shell­fish As­so­ci­a­tion of Great Bri­tain (SAGB) wel­comed a max­i­mum ca­pac­ity crowd to its 50th an­nual con­fer­ence and din­ner, held last month in the splen­did sur­round­ings of Fish­mon­ger’s Hall in Lon­don. Wel­comed by direc­tor David Jar­rad, del­e­gates heard from speak­ers on all as­pects of the shell­fish in­dus­try.

Seafood guru Karen Gal­loway gave the pop­u­lar Drum­mond Lec­ture, with a lively pre­sen­ta­tion on how to cap­ture en­thu­si­asm for eat­ing seafood in chil­dren.

‘Re­search shows that those who eat it reg­u­larly have in­creased IQs and a bet­ter qual­ity of sleep,’ she said.

Urg­ing par­ents to in­tro­duce more shell­fish to chil­dren, Gal­loway sug­gested that they ‘keep it com­fort­able, give it some crunch, fo­cus on favourite flavours, put it between bread, take it out­doors…’

She ex­pressed frus­tra­tion that the Food Stan­dards Agency shows an on­go­ing re­luc­tance to in­clude shell­fish in the ‘two per week’ mes­sage, de­spite the fact that many stud­ies have shown the nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits to out­weigh per­ceived risks.

Gal­loway also called out the lack of shell­fish recipes on pop­u­lar on­line recipe sites, com­pared to chicken and veg­e­tar­ian dishes. ‘We need to fix this fast!’ she said. Ali­son Austin, chair of Seafood 2040, used her key­note speech to also stress the need to move the nar­ra­tive be­yond two per week.

We need to look at the seafood of­fer in pub­lic pro­cure­ment, and to find rea­sons to con­vince pol­icy mak­ers and health pro­fes­sion­als to change menu spec­i­fi­ca­tions,’ she said.

Austin spoke of the suc­cess­ful es­tab­lish­ment of a Seafood In­dus­try Lead­er­ship group, which will help to de­liver the vi­sion and ac­tion plan that make up the Seafood 2040 strate­gic frame­work for Eng­land.

The frame­work has 25 de­tailed rec­om­men­da­tions and in­cludes the need to fa­cil­i­tate sig­nif­i­cant growth in the aqua­cul­ture sec­tor; see busi­ness growth en­abled by in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments; in­crease op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­ports; and as­sure ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets for re­spon­si­bly sourced raw ma­te­ri­als.

‘Im­por­tantly, over the next 20 years we want to see a +75 per cent in­crease in seafood con­sump­tion, which will cre­ate an ad­di­tional £4.6 bil­lion of ad­di­tional sales,’ said Austin.

She be­lieves there are many rea­sons to be optimistic about aqua­cul­ture, with a host of projects either in the plan­ning or un­der­way to help the sec­tor achieve its full po­ten­tial, in­clud­ing an As­sur­ance Scheme for Shell­fish and Hu­man Health project.

Fish­eries min­is­ter Robert Good­will MP opened pro­ceed­ings on the sec­ond day.

‘I am con­fi­dent that fol­low­ing Brexit, op­por­tu­ni­ties will arise when the coun­try once again be­comes an in­de­pen­dent coastal state and trad­ing na­tion,’ said Good­will.

He stressed that De­fra (the De­part­ment for En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs) was work­ing hard to en­sure that dis­rup­tions to seafood sup­ply routes would be min­imised fol­low­ing Brexit, in order to help pave the way for new trade op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘I am aware of the in­dus­try’s se­ri­ous con­cerns around the im­pacts of a pos­si­ble no deal Brexit, with the need for ad­di­tional ex­port and health cer­tifi­cates and the sub­se­quent de­lays these would bring, but our pri­or­ity is to en­sure that trade can con­tinue as smoothly as pos­si­ble and with min­i­mal dis­rup­tion,’ he said.

He touched on fu­ture fund­ing to sup­port aqua­cul­ture and fish­eries, and con­firmed that a new long-term do­mes­tic ar­range­ment would be put in place to sup­port UK seafood busi­nesses from 2021, that would be com­pa­ra­ble to the cur­rent EMFF scheme.

Good­will stated that 102 aqua­cul­ture projects had been as­sisted to the value of £14.3 mil­lion to the end of 2018 through EMFF.

The scheme will con­tinue to be open for new projects un­til 2020, with an ad­di­tional £37.2 mil­lion of fund­ing an­nounced by Michael Gove, Sec­re­tary of State for En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs in De­cem­ber 2018.

Martin Smith from the Marine Man­age­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion con­firmed the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to on­go­ing sup­port for aqua­cul­ture in his pre­sen­ta­tion. He also demon­strated how the es­ti­mated ben­e­fits of EMFF fund­ing to 2023 had been ex­ceeded in ev­ery cat­e­gory.

‘The tar­get value for aqua­cul­ture pro­duc­tion was an ad­di­tional 3,100 tonnes with a value of EUR 7.9 mil­lion, but to the end of 2018 this had al­ready reached 10,091 tonnes with a value of EUR 25.226 mil­lion,’ he said.

Alex Adrian, of Crown Estate Scot­land (CES), spoke of his am­bi­tions for the shell­fish farm­ing in­dus­try, as an es­sen­tial part of a di­verse aqua­cul­ture of­fer­ing.

‘It’s not just about salmon,’ he said, stress­ing the shell­fish sec­tor’s in­her­ently sus­tain­able cre­den­tials and job se­cu­rity.

Adrian ex­plained that the CES is seek­ing to iden­tify de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for the sec­tor, fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of its Crit­i­cal Mass Model Re­port in 2017, which con­cluded that only 27.5 per cent of Scot­tish mussel sites cur­rently pro­duce more than 200 tonnes, and that mar­ginal gross earn­ings are achieved from mussel farms pro­duc­ing 150 tonnes.

‘The growth of mussel pro­duc­tion through­out Scot­land will re­quire in­creased scales of pro­duc­tion, which can be achieved through the re­struc­tur­ing of ex­ist­ing li­censed sites, while economies of scale can be achieved if re­sources are col­lec­tively pooled in var­i­ous ways,’ he said.

A Crit­i­cal Mass De­vel­op­ment Plan pi­lot is cur­rently un­der­way in the Clyde, look­ing at site se­lec­tion and car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity; pro­duc­tion plan­ning, im­pacts and ben­e­fits; and a tem­plate to fa­cil­i­tate the de­vel­op­ment plan­ning process.

Hamish Tor­rie, from the Glen­morangie Dis­tillery, gave an in­sight into DEEP, a £1 mil­lion oys­ter restora­tion project in the Dornoch Firth, which is sup­ported by the dis­tiller.

‘Oys­ters are the ul­ti­mate biofil­tra­tors and reef

“Those who eat it reg­u­larly have in­creased sleep IQs and a bet­ter qual­ity of sleep"

builders, and this project will de­liver societal and eco­nomic ben­e­fits,’ he said.

‘We also see it as an ex­em­plar for Scot­land plc, which will be built out into a wider se­ries of restora­tion projects over the next few years, with sup­port and fund­ing from re­searchers, oys­ter farm­ers, gov­ern­ment and busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties. We hope there will be four mil­lion na­tive oys­ters in the water by 2025,’ said Tor­rie.

Mark Dravers, from Guernsey Sea­farms, looked at 50 years of tri­als and tribu­la­tions in shell­fish hatch­ery pro­duc­tion, with a fo­cus on his own suc­cess­ful busi­ness.

He ex­plained that France pro­duces around 75,000 tonnes of oys­ters and uses three bil­lion seed, Ire­land pro­duces 8,000 tonnes and uses 200 mil­lion seed, and the UK pro­duces 1,000 tonnes and uses less than 20 mil­lion seed.

‘To put Euro­pean oys­ter farm­ing into per­spec­tive, we need to com­pare it with China, which pro­duces 4,000,000 tonnes of oys­ters!’ he said.

Pre­sen­ta­tions were also en­joyed from Scott John­ston of Young’s Seafoods, who out­lined 50 years of scampi pro­cess­ing; Dr Bekah Cioffi from the Welsh gov­ern­ment, on op­por­tu­ni­ties and threats for shell­fish in Wales; John and Ja­son Gil­son on their lives in the cockle busi­ness; Jane MacPherson of Marine Scot­land, on the fu­ture of shell­fish­eries man­age­ment in Scot­land; and Dr Colin Ban­nis­ter on 50 years of as­sess­ing lob­ster and crab stocks.

Mar­cus Cole­man, CEO of Seafish, dis­cussed global seafood in­dus­try trends, and Mike Warner, SAGB pro­mo­tions man­ager, talked about his work to en­cour­age greater con­sump­tion of shell­fish through­out the UK.

Clockwise from top: Guernsey Sea­farms; Ali­son Austin; Karen Gal­loway at the con­fer­ence; Robert Good­will MP

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