UK seafood industry launches ambitious 2040 vision

The English seafood supply chain has just launched a strategy framework, setting out a vision for the development of a thriving and sustainable seafood industry over the next few decades.

Seafood 2040 (SF2040) is the first document that encompasses all seafood sectors in a road map. It sets out the current state of the industry and the scope of ambition, together with a gap analysis and 25 recommendations for success. Key to achieving that success is cooperation and collaboration from sea to plate. 

The framework has been put together by a panel of experts from the catching, aquaculture, processing, international trade, retail, food service, and scientific sectors.

“The English seafood sector is facing a raft of opportunities and challenges over the coming decades:  Brexit, opening up new markets, access to raw material and labor, as well as environmental pressures, to name a few. Planning for the future to ensure the industry thrives is vital,” said Alison Austin, chair of Seafood 2040.  

The first step, and the lead recommendation, is to set up a leadership group to turn the vision into reality, Austin said. This group will be made up of key industry leaders and a representative from Seafish and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

An all-stakeholder seafood science and innovation group will also be created, bringing together industry, government, and academia. Their remit is to enhance the supply chain by accelerating the rate of innovation, and ensure access to available grant funding to facilitate research. 

One of the main aims of SF2040 is to enable consumers to comply with Public Health England’s advice for everyone to eat at least two portions of seafood a week, including one portion of oil-rich fish. However, according to Austin, this brings up questions such as how to ensure the supply is sustainable, how to evolve the supply chain to meet growing demand, and how to measure any positive impact on health. An increase from the current 1.5 portions per week to 2 portions of seafood would result in a 7.5 percent increase in overall consumption, according to SF2040. Importantly, growing consumption would generate GBP 4.6 billion (USD 6.2 billion, EUR 5.2 billion) in additional sales, an increase of 75 percent on 2016. 

A further aim of SF2040 is to have all wild fisheries verified as sustainable by 2040, and England’s aquaculture sector to have seen significant growth to become a flourishing entity. The plan also looks to enable the growth of seafood-related businesses through infrastructure improvements to maximize potential across the value chain, from ports, transport and logistics, to skills and recruitment, innovation, production efficiency, and waste reduction.

Exports are seen as a vital part of the plan, and SF2040 calls for growing the volume and value of export sales and to extend market reach. Imports are also targeted, with the strategy ambitiously anticipating that access to responsibly-sourced raw seafood materials from international markets will have been assured, and favorable trade and tariff agreements put in place with all seafood producing nations. 

U.K. fisheries minister George Eustice said he welcomed the establishment of a leadership group.

 “As we leave the E.U., we want to see our fishing industry seize the opportunity to create a more profitable, sustainable, and innovative seafood sector,” Eustice said. “I look forward to seeing how this group can work together to drive forward the ambitions in the Seafood 2040 strategy and unlock the industry’s vast potential.”


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