The final tranche of the UK Seafood Fund will help the UK industry gain a truly global reach, writes fisheries minister Victoria Prentis
Events in Ukraine and the impact of the pandemic have reminded us just how important domestic food production is. It gives us national resilience, and I want to reiterate again that we will always support our fishing and seafood industries through good times and bad.
I know that the industry is facing challenges, particularly when it comes to input costs as a result of global fuel prices. We are continuing to engage with industry to discuss the challenges and potential mitigations.
I have been clear that coastal communities should be at the heart of our levelling up agenda. The prime minister announced £100m to rejuvenate coastal communities up and down the country. Businesses are already making use of the £24m science and innovation scheme, the infrastructure scheme is now open
for proposals, and delivery of funding for skills and training is on the way. This will allow businesses to make improvements and modernise fleets, so they are resourced to make the most of increases in quota seen since our departure from the Common Fisheries Policy, including really significant quota uplifts for the pelagic and under-10m sectors.
We have already witnessed an increase of around 15%, and by 2026, this will amount to around £146m based on historic landing prices, or 25% of the average annual EU catch from UK waters.
I want this funding to also help provide more employment, and more apprenticeships and opportunities for the next generation. The fishing industry gives many areas a real sense of identity and pride in local produce – whether it’s salmon, mackerel or sole. I am determined for younger generations and new entrants to have the opportunity to enter the sector with confidence in its long-term viability.
And as the final part of the £100m UK Seafood Fund, I am pleased to announce a £1m Seafood Exports Package.
This package has been developed in collaboration with the Seafish Industry Authority so it can be as effective as possible in meeting the needs of our fantastic range of seafood businesses. It will help connect UK seafood companies with new overseas buyers to unlock lucrative markets and boost the volume and value of exports.
We want people at home and abroad to be lining up to buy British seafood. I want to boost seafood consumption here in the UK, but I also want to ensure that our fishermen and UK aquaculture businesses are able to make the most of the export opportunities that they now have, thanks to the trade deals we are signing around the world. Global exports of UK seafood amounted to over £1.6bn in 2021, and we want this to increase.
In practical terms, the fund will be used to promote the very best of UK seafood at international events. This will build on recent successes for UK seafood businesses at the Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona, which saw businesses from Kilkeel through to Torbay showcasing their products on the global stage. It will also fund seafood specialists to help UK companies export – opening up new opportunities for some of our smaller businesses too.
There are huge opportunities in overseas markets – including China, South Korea and North America, and this will boost job creation in the fishing and seafood sectors, and generate income for coastal regions.
We have taken back control of our waters and announced significant investment in the industry. By expanding the global reach of our UK seafood businesses, we will increase the resilience and sustainability of our world-class industry – creating a brighter future for the whole sector.
£1m Exports Package targets
The UK government has announced a £1m package to boost the value and volume of seafood exports.
The Seafood Exports package will:
- Identify new overseas buyers and connect them with UK seafood companies
- Promote UK seafood at international events
- Increase expertise on British seafood produce in our embassies and consulates overseas.
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.