The Shellfish Association of Great Britain’s 44th Annual Conference
Speaker Summaries 2013
Tuesday 21st May
Richard Benyon MP
Building stronger relationships and encouraging a greater understanding of the intricacies of the UK’s
marine environment will boost the chances of establishing more sustainable fisheries, said Richard Benyon
MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment & Fisheries at the opening session of the
Shellfish Association of Great Britain’s 44th Annual Conference.
At last year’s conference, Benyon shared his vision of where he would like the shellfish and marine
aquaculture industries to be in 10 years time. “I said I wanted to see a healthy and sustainable industry that
is selling more of its products locally to meet the growing UK demand for seafood as well as boosting our
UK exports,” he reminded this year’s delegates. “I would really like to thank the SAGB for working with
government over the last year towards realising that vision. At a time of immense pressure on government
resources, working together brings great benefits.”
The minister stressed that marine planning is not about government moving into an area and deciding what
future activities will take place. He said it’s about working with shellfish producers and other interests to
deliver sustainable economic growth.
“We are on a steep learning curve with marine planning. We started on the east coast and we are now
moving to areas on the south coast. The MMO has very much appreciated the SAGB’s contributions and is
looking for more contributions from individual businesses as well as the SAGB. Marine Conservation Zones
(MCZs) are part of the wider agenda for our seas for marine conservation; they are one piece of the marine
environment protection jigsaw but not the only piece.
“I find it very frustrating when campaigns such as the ‘127 campaign’ are articulated in the way that they
are,” said Benyon. “If we are going to ask people to stop doing activities, we better have a darn good
He said MCZs are not about numbers or lines on maps and added that he wants the UK’s zones to be
meaningful and proportionate and to use scientific evidence to locate and protect special sites in the marine
“We have analysed 40,000-plus responses to the consultation and based on the evidence we have
received, we will be making decisions on which sites to designate in the autumn.
“I want successful sites to be created in the right places and managed in the right way,” he said.
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Dr Clive Askew, SAGB Vice-President
Presenting the Drummond Lecture “50 years of modern shellfish farming – where can we go from here?”
Clive Askew said the future of the industry will not be about establishing new technical solutions to growing
shellfish; it will instead be about overcoming bureaucracy or learning to live with it.
Askew said in recent years, the SAGB has had to learn how to manage many issues including the “big
three bureaucracies” of conservation (MCZs), norovirus and getting the general public to take shellfish
more seriously and accept that it is good for them.
“At the same time, we live in a democracy and society makes choices which we have to live with,” he said.
Mark Gray, Seafish
Mark Gray opened his presentation by outlining Seafish’s new strategic direction, which is aimed at
“securing a sustainable and profitable future for the UK seafood industry”. To achieve this, Seafish has
determined eight work streams:
Consumption - Promoting the consumption of seafood in the UK
Regulation - Providing guidance and support for the industry
Fishermen’s Safety - Making sure fishermen are up to date on safety training
Responsible Sourcing - Ensuring information is available on best practice
International Trade - Providing export and import companies with the right, up-to-date data
Information - Coordinating and responding to industry enquiries
Reputation - Increasing awareness of industry standards and operations and delivering positive messages
Regional Support - Giving specific support to UK regions
Focusing on the Responsible Sourcing work stream, Gray talked about the pressures facing processors
and retailers, including sourcing responsibly-produced seafood as well as the difficulties dealing with data-
deficient fisheries and the lack of information and assessment for mixed fisheries. To address these issues,
Seafish is conducting risk assessments for sourcing seafood and offering tailored information and
guidance. Furthermore it’s participating in a number of outreach programmes, including the Common
Language Group, the Discard Action Group and the Aquaculture Common Issues Group.
Gray went on to talk about the success of Seafish’s Responsible Fishing Scheme and the inherent benefits
of responsible fishing, such as securing markets and access to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). He then
introduced the Defra Generic Matrix, which is the government’s new policy to assess all fisheries in all
marine sites in English waters. Essentially, the matrix assesses all fishing interactions. It has already
established 25 high risk interaction areas and these will be subject to further investigation.
Martin Syvret, Aquafish Solutions
Martin Syvret talked about the ongoing project of introducing shellfish aquaculture in offshore windfarm
sites in Wales. According to Syvret, the benefits of offshore shellfish aquaculture include:
An increased water flow, which leads to higher phytoplankton levels and dispersal of detritus
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The water quality tends to be superior quality
Less impacts of diffuse pollution, such as faecal run-off from agriculture
Lower shellfish disease/pathogen load
Less norovirus, microbial contaminants, HABs
Less competition for space than inshore sites
As well as being an efficient use of marine space, he said the benefits of locating offshore farms at
windfarm sites include there being less marine traffic through windfarm areas and the environmental and
bathymetric parameters are already known.
The North Hoyle mussel cultivation trial, which was a project started by Deepdock Ltd and James Wilson
with the help of Seafish in 2010, paved the way for the current multi-stakeholder project, which has been
funded by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and the Welsh government.
According to Syvret, the trial proved three important things: Firstly, the mussels grow very quickly in an
offshore environment; Secondly, co-location is practical; and lastly that windfarm operators and the
aquaculture industry can work together.
The purpose of the new project, which started in October 2012 and will conclude in June/July 2013, is to
establish what forms of shellfish culture are suitable now or in the near future rather than much further
down the line. The second deliverable is to draft a guidance manual on how to cultivate shellfish within
Welsh windfarm site that also factors in the requirements of windfarm operators and nature conservation
Tim Dapling, Chairman IFCA Chief Officers Group
Tim Dapling painted a picture of where IFCAs sit in the marine landscape, where they are heading and their
requirements, their progress to date, and their potential achievements in the near future.
Dapling said the authority for an IFC district must manage the exploitation of sea fisheries resources in that
district. He added that one of its most important functions is to seek to balance the social and economic
benefits of exploiting the sea fisheries resources of the district with the need to protect the marine
environment from, or promote its recovery from, the effects of such exploitation.
With Defra looking to designate MCZs by the autumn, it will be IFCAs role to ensure the conservation
objectives of any MCZ in their district are furthered.
In terms of priorities, Dapling said at the top of the list is the legal framework and Defra guidance, which
combines the vision, the IFCAs success criteria and high-level objectives. He added that he most important
objective by far is the need for the IFCAs to review their regulatory bylaws by 2015.
Other priorities include: local community requirements; partnerships and projects initiatives and
opportunities; development and implementation of new marine laws and policies; and unanticipated
responses to national issues, such as a change in approach to the management of EMS.
With regards to challenges, prioritising management activities will be an increasingly tough task for the
IFCAs, said Dapling. Nevertheless, they are on course to deliver a new management system.
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“The shellfish sector is, by its very nature is a practical, highly aware environment, supported by
appropriate management,” he added. “Its expectations are typically realistic and pragmatic and on behalf
of my colleagues I can assure you that within the IFCA management your specific needs will be considered
Sam Evans, SAGB Member
Through “A Blackburn Rover”, Sam Evans delivered a colourful insight into his life as a marine researcher
and a fisherman, which has taken him all around the British Isles.
Tony Legg, Jersey Sea Farms
Shellfish farmer Tony Legg delivered a fascinating insight into his experiences creating a new product from
scratch including his decision to embark upon the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification
Jersey Sea Farms has reintroduced native oyster growing to Jersey. This animal has not been
commercially grown in Jersey for 103 years but Legg has had excellent results growing them inter-tidally.
But the challenge that faced him was how to market the product, particularly outside Jersey, and how to
communicate sustainability. Eventually, he elected to look at the ASC certification scheme and ran a pilot
project last September.
“The ASC is a big approach,” said Legg. “They are looking at all farmed products and the abalone and
bivalve standards will be coming through in Q3 2013.”
As far as he is concerned, one of the big advantages of ASC is that it has a similar logo and set of
principles to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and as such he feels the general public are more
likely to take this onboard.
Clive Harward, Anglian Water
Geographically, Anglian Water is the largest of the 10 water operators in the UK. In addition to supplying
waste water services to around 6m domestic and commercial customers, it supplies 1.2 billion litres of
drinking water each day.
Clive Harward introduced Love Every Drop (LED), which is Anglian Water’s company-wide campaign
“putting water at the heart of a new way of sustainable living”. The programme is about understanding the
realities of water use and the climate change effects that could happen in the region, he said.
Over the last 17 years, Anglian Water has invested around £300m in protecting coastal water quality. It has
done this by installing secondary treatment at all coastal treatment works, creating additional storm storage
at key locations, removing unsatisfactory CSOs, installing UV treatment at shellfish waters, upgrading its
telemetry and monitoring systems and investing in coastal modelling.
“But we are not complacent; this is a moving picture,” he said.
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The shellfish waters in the Anglian region comprise 15 potential production areas and 83 individual beds
and Harward stressed the company, with the help of Seafish, is aligning itself closer to the needs of the
shellfish industry. It is providing useful information to harvesters and last year embarked upon a text alert
system trial in Essex. This was the first trial of its kind between a water company and the UK shellfish
In partnership with Seafish, Anglian Water has also developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to
cover the sharing of information. Also with the Seafish authority, the water company has established the
East Anglian Water Quality Forum, now in its second year, to discuss issues surrounding marine water
quality. This year, the forum will be chaired by harvesters.
Irene Bocchetta, Defra Food Policy
Irene Bocchetta’s presentation looked at the EU’s protected food names scheme and gave an overview of
the application process for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication
(PDI) as well as the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) programme and their relevance for fish and
Explaining the difference between them, Bocchetta said PDO products ARE produced, processed AND
prepared within a particular area, whereas PDI products are EITHER produced OR processed OR
prepared within a particular area. TSG products, on the other hand, are not determined by geography. Yet
they still follow a traditional method or recipe of importance.
The UK currently has 52 protected food names (all products) with another 40 in the pipeline. And although
the UK has fewer registered names than other EU member states, the economic value of these products
puts the country at fourth place. The value of its protected name products is €1.1m.
Isle of Man Queenies were the first UK seafood product to achieve PDI, while products with PGI include
Lough Neagh Eels, Traditional Grimsby Smoked Fish, Arbroath Smokies, Whitstable Oysters, Cornish
Sardines and Scottish Farmed Salmon. Their ranks will soon be joined by Fal Oysters, which has applied
for PDO status and Selsey Lobster which has applied for PGI.
Harriet Moonesinghe, University of Portsmouth
PhD research student Harriet Moonesinghe explained that seafood allergies are caused by the body’s
immune response to proteins found in seafood. They are distinct from adverse reactions due to toxins or
infectious contaminants, which are not immune-based.
She said fish and crustacean allergies are more common than mollusc and that seafood allergies are more
common in adults than children but unlike some food allergies, seafood allergies do not in general resolve
with age and therefore correct life-long dietary avoidance is essential.
The AAP had recommended no solids be given to an infant until the age of six months, with a further delay
in the introduction of known allergens (cows’ milk until one, hens’ eggs until two and peanuts, tree nuts and
fish until three years). Moonesinghe said these recommendations have now been revised based on the
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lack of empirical evidence of the effectiveness in preventing food allergy, and it is no longer advised to
delay the introduction of allergenic foods beyond 4-6 months.
Her PhD research project aims to determine the prevalence and natural history of fish and shellfish allergy
in different regions of the world. In addition, she will characterise fish-allergic adults in the UK with regards
to the types of fish involved and other co-existing allergies such as crustacean and molluscs, as well as the
presence of atopic disease and their health-related quality of life. Furthermore, she will correlate fish intake
in pregnancy, the timing of introduction of fish in the first 3 years of life, and frequency of fish consumption
with the development of fish allergy and other allergic diseases in the first 10 years of life.
Her conclusions included:
Further prevalence research is needed to identify global patterns of allergy
Key allergenic proteins in seafood are identified as Parvalbumin and Tropmyosin
Currently the only effective management is avoidance and treatment of adverse symptoms
Further clarification is needed on the impact of early introduction of foods and the impact on children’s
Hazel Curtis, Seafish
Closing the first day of the conference, Hazel Curtis introduced “The Business of Fishing”, a new film from
Seafish, which explores the challenges and rewards faced by fishing vessel owners operating within the UK
fishing industry. The film features four vessel owners and explores the complexities of operating in the
modern fishing industry and the reason it was made was to help people outside the industry understand the
business aspects of fishing and the day to day challenges that vessel owners face, said Curtis.
Wednesday 22nd May
Dr Ewen Bell, CEFAS
Opening day two of the conference, Dr Ewen Bell spoke of the commercial importance of nephrops,
revealing the species is worth more than £100m per annum to the UK economy. There are 34 different
fishery units recognised by scientists across the North East Atlantic, of these the Fladen ground is the most
important unit with catches of around 12,000 tonnes, followed by the Western Irish Sea with 8,000 tonnes.
Bell has been contributing to a stock assessment programme. The purpose of this assessment is to
importantly determine the size of the stock and the rate at which stock is being exploited. He explained how
difficult it is to count the numbers of these burrowing animals and ran through some of the new equipment
constructed to help with the assessment. “Different grounds have different assemblages. It takes practise
and training to read a ground,” he said.
In the future, Bell hopes to use automated video recognition in nephrop assessments. He would also like to
see further research into burrow occupancy and size as well as age determination.
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Alan Law, Natural England
Alan Law talked about the relationship between Natural England (NE) and the shellfish industry. He said
there are the perceptions that NE is detached from practical realities of business, that it’s opposed to
development and uses legislation and evidence as obstacles, but said the organisation had “gone through
extensive change” over the last couple of years. Furthermore, that it wants to work together with industry to
address these concerns and improve the relationship.
NE is the statutory advisor on landscape and biodiversity and acts as Defra’s delivery body for licensing
and/or designations. It is not the policymaker or regulator, stressed Law.
Within Defra’s Generic Matrix, he explained when activities are classified as “Red”, Defra’s expectation is
that where required additional measures will be developed by December this year. For activities deemed
“Amber” or “Green” further site-specific assessments by the IFCAs/MMO will be carried out which will
determine whether or not additional measures are needed. This will be done by 2016. For activities
classified as “Blue”, no further action is required.
NE will therefore be providing data to the IFCAs and the MMO to identify Red-features. It will also provide
advice on key issues, help build the evidence base for Amber and Green assessments to be carried out
from 2013-16, and will work with industry and regulators to develop assessment methods.
With regards to shellfish and aquaculture activities, Amber/Green activities will need to be assessed and
Law said NE recognises this is a significant area of work and it wants to work with the SAGB to develop
and deliver the solutions.
He said there will be a closer working relationship between SAGB and NE, which will be aided by the
secondment of Rob Whiteley into the SAGB starting this June.
Viktoria Varga Lencses, DG MARE, EU Commission
EU aquaculture production has stagnated over the last decade. Today, it produces a modest 1.3 million
tonnes of products with a value of €3.1bn, said Viktoria Varga Lencses, who added that the sector’s
underperformance is illustrated by the widening gap between production and consumption. Just 10 percent
of seafood consumption comes from EU aquaculture, 25 percent from EU fisheries and the remaining 65
percent from non-EU imports.
However, Lencses said European fish farming has significant growth potential, which is why aquaculture
reform is an “essential opportunity” of the incoming Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
In addition to providing fish for the market, aquaculture is an important source of coastal economic
development. Each additional percentage point of EU consumption produced internally through aquaculture
could create between 3,000 and 4,000 full-time jobs, most of which will be in coastal areas, said Lencses.
But she conceded that one of the biggest hindrances to aquaculture expansion has been the painfully slow
licensing procedures. Obtaining a licence for a new farm can take three to four years, which many in the
industry feel has been the biggest deterrent to outside investment.
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“It is often unpredictable; it takes too long and costs a lot of money. We need to change that, make it more
foreseeable and offer greater certainty to producers so that if they invest in setting up new sites, their costs
will not be lost.”
To encourage new projects, the Commission has incorporated an ambitious target of one month for a
licensing decision in its Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, she said. However, this deadline does not
include environmental licensing.
In addition to reducing administrative burdens, in its strategic guidelines for sustainable EU aquaculture, the
Commission has identified three other challenges: facilitate access to space and water through an
integrated approach to spatial planning; a requirement to increase the sector's competitiveness; and a need
to improve the level playing field by exploiting the competitive edge of "made in the EU" fish products.
Lencses said the aim is to better communicate the sustainability, high-quality and healthy nature of EU
aquaculture products to consumers.
“We know from market surveys that consumers are often ready to pay more for their products if they know
they have been produced according to high standards. This can be done through labeling and improved
consumer communication,” she said.
The strategic guidelines are linked to the ongoing reform of the CFP which aims to promote aquaculture
through a so-called voluntary “open method of coordination”. On the basis of these guidelines, member
states will prepare Multiannual National Strategic Plans, taking into consideration each country's specific
starting conditions, challenges and potential.
“These plans will have concrete objectives and numbers, saying, ‘we want to improve this situation this way
and we will spend this much.’ The numbers are important because the strategic plans will somehow be
linked to the financial programs,” said Lencses.
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which is expected to be the main financial tool to
support aquaculture development, will wait for the strategic plans to be submitted to see how the money
can best be spent, and to make sure results are coming in the right places, she said. They should be
submitted by the end of 2013 because there will be funding opportunities during next year.
Dr Edward Pope & Dr Frances Hopkins, UK Ocean Acidification Consortium
Dr Frances Hopkins and Dr Edward Pope outlined the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme, which
is a four-year, £12m project that will conclude in 2014. The project involves 150 scientists from 23 UK
universities and research institutions.
Its goal is to undertake in-depth studies on the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on all aspects of marine
ecology, biogeochemistry and potential social and economic impacts. One of its key aims is to quantify,
predict and communicate the impact of OA on commercially important shellfish and fin-fish species and to
disseminate these findings to stakeholders.
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On 9 May 2013, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere passed 400ppm. The last time this occurred was
3-5 million years ago, revealed Hopkins. “Oceans are a critical CO2 sink. They absorb 30 percent of human
Pope said that by combining the experimental data with national carbonate chemistry data, the programme
hopes to gain a better understanding of the likely scale and impact of OA on UK aquaculture.
Charles Clover, Tim Glover & David Sales, Blue Marine Foundation
Charles Clover, Tim Glover and David Sales talked about the early success of the conservation and
management initiative underway in Lyme Bay.
The project, which has brought fishermen and conservationists together, is about the management of
MPAs, said Clover.
In 2008 the government closed off 60 square nautical miles of Lyme Bay to scallop dredging and bottom-
trawling, making it the country’s largest MPA. However, the ban on mobile fishing resulted in a doubling of
fishing pressure using static gear and this is believed to have caused up to 50 percent declines in certain
Under the partnership, which is part-funded by Marks & Spencer, a voluntary code has been signed by
fishermen restricting the amount of gear used by any one fisherman.
“We are trying to ascertain what is a sustainable catch in this area so that we can manage the area and
demonstrate that fishermen should have access to the resource,” said Clover. “We are trying to reconfirm
the old view of fishermen; we are perhaps turning back the clock in terms of the number of pots being used
but maybe we are also turning back the clock in terms of people’s respect.
“The fishermen are the local heroes here because they are the ones that have made all the decisions,” he
The Blue Marine Foundation believes Lyme Bay is a model for elsewhere.
Hilary Cox & Nick Samujlik, Cromer and Sheringham Crab & Lobster Festival
Hilary Cox & Nick Samujlik ended the conference with a talk about the Cromer and Sheringham Crab &
Lobster Festival, which was initiated in 2009 to promote both Norfolk towns to tourists at the start of the
summer season (May) and in doing so boost both local economies. Over the past four years, as well as
raising the profile of local shellfish and tourism, the event has raised £24,000 for charity.