On 26 October, the APPG on Fisheries, in partnership with the Seafood 2040 programme, hosted an inclusive event discussing the UK’s aquaculture industry and how it can develop sustainably. The event was chaired by Alistair Carmichael, vice chair of the APPG.

Experts in aquaculture from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England introduced attendees to the specific strengths and challenges of the sector in each nation. “I would love to see the Scottish and UK parliaments supporting the most low-carbon, most efficient food production system,” Heather Jones, CEO of Scotland’s Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre, told the event.

Dr Matt Service of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute made a presentation on the challenges affecting Northern Ireland’s shellfish aquaculture sector, namely space and water quality, before highlighting how building scientific knowledge could help to support the sector.

Jon Parker of Aquaculture Industry Wales spoke on the changing funding and regulatory landscape of Welsh aquaculture in the light of Brexit and the effects of the pandemic.

Ruth Allin of DEFRA and Dr Neil Auchterlonie of Seafood 2040 spoke on the prospects for aquaculture in England. “There is no reason why we cannot see steady sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry over time in England, but in my view this will be achieved through collaboration with many partners and needs to be facilitated by efficient and appropriate regulation planning,” said Dr Auchterlonie. Seafood 2040 published the English Aquaculture Strategy last year.

Ally Dingwall of Sainsbury’s concluded by providing insight into the relationship between the aquaculture sector and retailers. “There is recognition of a need for an enabling but robust regulatory framework to allow the sustainable development of aquaculture,” he said. “That is absolutely fundamental for the success of the industry going forward.”

The presentations were followed by a discussion involving MPs and other attendees, with topics including co-operative interactions with other sectors such as fisheries, how to address issues of water quality, and capturing the environmental benefits and costs of aquaculture.

The event was recorded and is available on the APPG website, along with a summary of the panellists’ answers to questions. The APPG secretariat will also publish a policy brief detailing the outputs and key messages from the event in the coming weeks.

The APPG on Fisheries’ next event will take place on 23 November, addressing financial resilience in fishing communities.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.

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