‘Profitable and sustainable’

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The Chief Executive of Seafish describes the role the organisation plays in the fishing industry.

Working closely with the fishing industry on the issues affecting them has always been, and will continue to be, a key priority for Seafish. Our teams are working hard throughout the UK, delivering projects and initiative designed to achieve our aim of supporting a profitable and sustainable future for the seafood industry. I certainly recognise that the fishing industry is central to any ambitions for the future of our industry and the NFFO have always been important partners for Seafish.

You will all be aware that, for many years, we have been supporting fishermen’s training, providing fishermen with specialist vessel survey and inspection services (Marine Survey), providing them with news of offshore activities and locations of surface and subsea structures (Kingfisher Information Services) and supporting some new fishing safety initiatives arising out of the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG), where we now sit alongside the NFFO on the FISG Executive Board.

One of the main initiatives coming out of FISG in recent years has been the drive to encourage all fishermen to wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) when working at sea on open decks. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has said it will make the wearing of PFDs by fishermen mandatory if our industry does not voluntarily change its working practices. The NFFO responded proactively to this, and was the first industry organisation to apply for EFF funding (to provide PFDs to 1,000 of its member vessels); we were delighted to provide financial support for that project. The safety of our fishermen is a key area of work for Seafish, and I for one have been delighted to see that the picture is improving year on year on this important issue.

In order to strengthen the ongoing work in this area, we have actively supported industry-led PFD projects throughout the UK and have just recently secured EFF funding from the Marine Management Organisation to purchase and distribute another 4,500 PFDs to fishermen in England. We launched this latest roll-out of PFDs at Skipper Expo International in Bournemouth and were overwhelmed with interest from fishermen wanting to obtain and start wearing PFDs. The team came away from the event inspired to continue their hard work in this area and, as always, the opportunity to discuss the key issues with the industry representatives visiting our stand was invaluable.

We have also been working closely with partners such as the NFFO and CEFAS as part of the Fisheries Science Partnership. Our involvement has included the provision of expert advice on gear technology, collaborative work on scientific testing and joining with partners on the design and delivery of sea trials.

This is certainly a period of change and readjustment for the fishing industry, and not one without its challenges. We are committed to ensuring we offer practical and meaningful support wherever possible. Our teams are out working with industry every day and are always keen to work with industry first hand. On behalf of them, I extend the invitation to get in touch and find out more about the range of projects and initiatives we are currently working on. If you would like to find out more about any of our projects or initiatives, please visit www.seafish.org. You can also find all the latest news on Twitter by following @seafishuk.

Our vision for a sustainable and profitable seafood industry is built on a close working relationship with our fishing industry, one that has proved to be adaptable and resilient through numerous challenges. On behalf of Seafish, I guarantee our continued commitment to collaborative working towards a successful future.

Paul Williams, Chief Executive at Seafish.