A newly formed group aiming to give the shellfish aquaculture industry a voice in parliament has held its inaugural meeting.

Consisting of cross-party MPs, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Shellfish Aquaculture intends to raise the profile and knowledge of shellfish aquaculture in parliament.

Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall, the founder and vice chair of the new group, said: “At a moment of great change for the shellfish industry, it is only right we unite all those with an interest in this sector and give it the attention it deserves.”

The APPG aims to give the industry a ‘strong voice’ and ‘bridge the gap which evidentially exists between the industry and government’.

“Over the coming weeks, months and years, I hope this group will serve as representative body of the shellfish industry and provide the insight and analysis to safeguard its future in the UK,” said Anthony Mangnall.

“I look forward to working with local and national groups and standing up for the shellfishing industry, not just of South Devon but of the whole UK.”

With the end of the Brexit transition period, many producers of live bivalve molluscs saw their European markets close overnight – but the APPG envisages both ‘challenges and opportunities’ for the sector.

It adds that the shellfish aquaculture industry has ‘tremendous potential for food security, the environment and sustainability, health and nutrition, as well as the local economy of coastal communities’.

Simon Fell MP, chair of the APPG, said: “This is a very important sector that faces ruin without the proper attention being given to it.

“This isn’t just about big businesses, but thousands of family fishermen whose livelihoods are at risk if politicians don’t reopen routes for them to sell their produce to the markets that need them. There’s never been a more important time for these issues to be discussed.”

The Shellfish Association of Great Britain (SAGB) is serving as secretariat to the group.

“The SAGB is delighted to see the development of the APPG for Shellfish Aquaculture. The UK produces some of the best quality shellfish in the world in an environmentally benign manner,” said its chief executive David Jarrad.

“We truly hope the success of the group will give support to the industry and help unlock the huge growth potential that exists.”

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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