The Shellfish Association of Great Britain’s 43rd Annual Conference Fishmongers’ Hall, London. 22nd – 23rd May 2012. Speaker SummariesDr Paul Williams, SeafishPaul Williams talked about the role of Seafish and the raft of ways in which it works withgovernment agencies and other bodies, including the SAGB, which he said is a key partner onmany projects, such as the Shellfish Industry Development Strategy (SIDS). He acknowledgedfisheries minister Richard Benyon’s earlier presentation which insisted that the shellfish andaquaculture industries would need to grow, and said Seafish is looking at how best that couldbe achieved bearing in mind “the mass of regulations” that are currently in place controllingaccess to the marine resource. Part of this work includes joint work with the SAGB that looksat the potential/feasibility of introducing shellfish growing sites near to wind farm areas.Looking ahead, Williams outlined the £2.5m ACRUNET (Atlantic Crab Users ResourceNetwork) project and also confirmed there would be follow up to SIDS. He concluded bysaying that Seafish has a real commitment to UK shellfish. “Seafish’s goal is a sustainable,profitable future for the seafood industry. Part of that is for the shellfish sector,” he said.Norah Parke, Killybegs Fishermen’s OrganisationNorah Parke elaborated on ACRUNET, explaining the project was the result of the crabindustry taking matters into its own hands to do something about the fisheries management(or rather lack of). ACRUNET has 15 partners – BIM, KFO, Seafish, SAGB, Bord Bia, IFREMER,CEFAS, France Agrimer, Marine Institute, NFFO, IPIMAR, Seafood Scotland, CETMAR andCNPMEM – which came together because in the past there had been a complete lack of trustin the crab sector. This resulted in a poorer quality product, which in turn led to low prices. Adownward cycle was created because fishermen would increase their effort to compensate.Parke said there were numerous challenges facing ACRUNET but that it would strive toimprove the co-operation, communication and innovation in the industry and wouldimplement policy at national, regional and EU level. It would do this by establishing acomprehensive communications platform, she said.
Stephen Cameron, Scottish Shellfish Marketing GroupStephen Cameron delivered a comprehensive breakdown of the UK mussel market andstressed that mussels remain ever popular with consumers but that there was some shift inthe preferred formats, which needed to be recognized in future product development.Around 4,000 tonnes of mussels, worth more than £21m were sold in the UK last year.Overall, in terms of the market’s favourite seafood products, they are ranked 11th in valueand 8th in volume.Pre-packed value-added mussels have grown significantly in importance in the past fewyears, Cameron said. Retail sales now account for 42% of all mussel purchases, wholesale is32% and foodservice is 26%. He said that mussels in sauces (white wine, garlic butter andProvençal) make up the greatest volume of consumer retail purchases at 61%, way ahead offresh mussels at 16%. Looking ahead, modified atmosphere packs (MAP) of fresh livemussels, which are popular in Europe, are starting to gain ground in the UK, he said.Dr Stephen Bolt, Association of IFCAsStephen Bolt explained the new Association of IFCAs and why it is so important that abalance is struck between the social, economic and environmental needs of England’s coastalmarine resource.David Muirhead MBE, SAGBThrough “A Fishy Tale”, David Muirhead delivered a colourful insight into his life as aCornish fisherman – man and boy, starting with handlining as a 3 year old!Martyn Youell, Marine Management Organisation (MMO)Martyn Youell, whose presentation was titled “The Marine Planning System”, gaveconference delegates an update into the progress of England’s marine plans, and insistedthat marine planning is not a new regulation. He explained that the first two areas for marineplans – East inshore and offshore – were selected in October 2010 and that the MMO willsubmit plans to government this autumn. There will be a public consultation in 2013, he said.Monty Halls, TV PresenterMonty Halls’ presentation “Between a rock and a hard plaice” gave a fascinating insight intothe making of ‘The Fishermans Apprentice BBC television series. Halls, a former RoyalMarines officer, revealed he found life as a fisherman incredibly exhausting - the early hours,the strength required to just do the day-to-day job, the inherent dangers of being a fishermanand the “baffling fog of legislation”. But he also talked at length about the “amazingcamaraderie” that came with being part of the Cadgwith fleet.
Halls talked about the potential of Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) in the UK. Halls hadseen the CSFs work in the United States, whereby interested members of the localcommunity pay a fee upfront and get fresh fish once a week from their local boats for a setperiod (eg three months), which they will pick up from a central distribution point. Theinitiative, which takes place in 24 towns and cities in the States, has fostered a direct linkbetween the boats and the local community. A CSF was trialled in Cadgwith and it went downvery well, said Halls. “It strikes me that these small schemes could work,” he said.Dr Linden Jack, Food Standards AgencyLinden Jack, head of the FSA’s food hygiene policy team, explained that work on norovirus isco-ordinated under the agency’s Foodborne Disease Strategy and that it expects to establishthree work streams around norovirus: Food handlers, Fresh produce and Shellfish. She saidthat more robust and scientific knowledge is required into norovirus and the list of prioritiesincludes: Literature review on distinguishing infectious and non-infectious norovirus EU project (VITAL) on identifying routes of contamination and potential controls for all foods Study on contribution of the whole food chain, including food handlers on UK acquired norovirus infections (three-year project due to start during 2012) Transmission routes of norovirus infection (complete 12/13) Research call issued for literature review on survival and persistence of norovirus in foods and on food contact surfaces (complete early 13/14)Jack said a research workshop would take place towards the end of this year. With regards tonorovirus in shellfish, she pointed out that the FSA had published research on prevalence ofnorovirus in UK shellfish harvesting areas but said the industry needs to understand moreabout the levels of norovirus in shellfish when they reach the consumer, infectious dose andquantifying the effectiveness of depuration.She also said the FSA was working with the European Commission and other member statesto establish an equivalency agreement for trade in live bivalve molluscs (LBM) between theEU and US. This is a long-term project and will take a number of years, she said.Nicki Holmyard, Seafood ScotlandClosing the first day of the conference, Nicki Holmyard talked about Seafood Scotland’sSeafood in Schools project, which aims to educate the next generation of consumers.Holmyard explained that it was vital that we, as an industry, extol the virtues of fish andshellfish because consumption is dropping while health issues are increasing. We need to
make children familiar with seafood, she said, adding that a number of forward-thinkingenterprises were now working in this area, such as Billingsgate Seafood School’s outreachproject, Marine Stewardship Council’s Fish ‘n Kids, Marks and Spencer’s School of Fish aswell as Seafood Scotland’s own project.Part of the Seafood in Schools project involves using seafood as a context for teaching,whereby children learn where seafood comes from, how it gets to their plates and why it’sgood (healthy) to eat. So far the project has interacted with 25,000 Scottish school children,thanks in part to more than £24,000 of donations from the seafood industry. The good newsis that the project has just been given a three-year extension to reach 50,000 per year.Robin Smith, North Norfolk Fisheries Liaison Group (FLAG)Robin Smith was the first speaker of day two and he talked about the public sector’s part in“making things happen” to boost ailing economic areas such as north Norfolk. Smithremarked that local authorities are amongst the most powerful economic agents in theirareas, shaping economic health as employers and purchasers and through local leadershipand economic development activities.“Experience demonstrates that without action at local level, coastal areas will continue to lagbehind other parts of the country,” he said. “But local authorities can make a differencestrategically through combining and sharing local resources in a targeted way with otherstrategic partners.”Smith said north Norfolk’s maritime area is becoming one of the most important investordevelopment areas in the east of England, which is raising the aspirations among the region’syoung people and subsequently improving job opportunities. But he also said that 2,500wind turbines will be erected over the next few years that will have a dramatic effect on theregion’s fisheries, therefore he felt the North Norfolk FLAG was set to become a verypowerful lobbying institution.Ian Groves, North Norfolk Business ForumFollowing on from Robin Smith’s presentation, Ian Groves gave an outline of the NorthNorfolk FLAG programme, operating from Thornham to Caister-on-Sea between 2011 and2014, and which – thanks to £2.4 million European Fisheries Fund money - has nearly 30separate projects.The FLAG’s vision is: “We aim to provide a voice for the North Norfolk fishery which willinfluence policy at a regional and national level while demonstrating the strong reputation ofthe fishery and highlighting its impressive heritage.”Specifically, the FLAG will support existing fishery businesses, boost new entrants, providenew infrastructure, ensure the environment not adversely affected and encourage andsupport new business opportunities, said Groves.
Toby Roxburgh, WWFToby Roxburgh talked about the PISCES (Partnerships Involving Stakeholders in the CelticSea Ecosytem) project, which has been running for two years and was founded by WWF UKand partners in France, Ireland and Spain. Together, they created (and are working with) aCeltic Sea stakeholder group to develop a practical guide on implementation of theecosystem approach to focus on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).The guide, which Roxburgh said is the “voice of the stakeholders” is set for launch at the startof October this year and will be followed by promotional events in the UK, France, Spain andBelgium (Brussels). He explained the guide should capture views on: how stakeholders canparticipate in MSFD; the benefits to government and stakeholders; and what is needed tomake this happen (eg new governance mechanisms, funding, incentives etc). The guide isbeing reviewed through to 6 July and Roxburgh urged interested conference delegates to getinvolved.Colin Warwick, The Crown EstateColin Warwick, a former fisherman, talked about harvesting the sea “in harmony”. Warwicksaid that in the grand scheme of things, the fishing industry is not important to the UK’s GDPbut stressed that it’s vital to coastal communities. He warned that the fishing industry nowfaces “the new kid on the block” in renewable energy (windfarms) and said that the logicalthing for the fishing industry to do is to create dialogue with these companies. “There are,after all, a lot of jobs in the renewable sector,” he said.Warwick said that of all fisheries industries, the shellfish sector was perhaps best placed totake advantage of the windfarms. “If you have the dialogue and the will to co-operate, there’sno reason why you can’t co-exist,” he said.Toby Middleton, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)Toby Middleton explained Project Inshore and introduced Matt Watson, who will be takingthe initiative forward.Project Inshore is essentially a tool to assess and feed into the management of all Englishfisheries within IFCA districts, said Middleton. It consists of three stages: Fishery Analysis,MSC Pre-Assessments, and Sustainability Reviews. It uses the MSC pre-assessment processas an independent assessment of what is happening on the ground in inshore fisheries. Thepre-assessments then feed into develop Sustainability Reviews to feed into currentmanagement practices.Middleton said the aim is to overcome market barriers to small scale fisheries engaging inthe MSC process. All inshore fisheries would be considered against a consistent frameworkof common criteria. Sustainability reports would be developed to enable multi-trackprogress and harmonised approaches. They would also recognise where management isworking and also areas which could be improved upon.
Looking ahead, Project Inshore will be setting up a multi-stakeholder advisory group. It willalso be outlining the timelines and process to IFCAs as well as scheduling local stakeholderworkshops.Matthew Ayers, CrabstockMatthew Ayers, head chef at the Lamb Inn, Great Rissington, ended the conference with histalk about Crabstock - the first inland shellfish festival. Crabstock was dreamed up by Ayersand Adrian Bartlett of The Really Interesting Crab Company to inform consumers about thebenefits of eating shellfish and to get local communities involved with the UK fishingindustry through a live music and food festival.Held over two days in April in the grounds of The Lamb Inn, Crabstock was visited by 2,000people. It promoted brown crab, spider crab, fiddler crab, lobsters, cockles, clams andmussels, oysters and scallops.“The general public isn’t aware of shellfish, there’s a real lack of knowledge,” Ayers toldconference delegates. “And also in my professional experience, I have found that a lot ofchefs are numb to shellfish; they don’t know what to do with it. Yet Crabstock has shown usthat people really do care about local produce.”Ayers and Bartlett are now looking into ways of rolling out the Crabstock concept to the restof the country. They are also planning a “Cotswold Shellfish Week,” involving all the chefs inthe area and getting their restaurants to promote U.K. shellfish, probably with the help of anew “Great British Shellfish” logo.ENDS [JH/June 2012]