Report underlines value of U.K. seafood industry


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
June 9, 2009

A Seafish report released on Monday underlines the seafood industry's contribution to the United Kingdom's economy in anticipation of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, which will be submitted to Parliament this month.

According to "The Price of Fish?" the seafood industry delivers more than GBP 5 billion (USD 8.1 billion, EUR 5.8 billion) to the U.K. economy, according to the Seafish (Sea Fish Industry Authority) report.

A YouGov poll commissioned by Seafish revealed that 62 percent of Brits are concerned about the U.K.'s ability to produce seafood for itself.

"These statistics demonstrate that the British public is rightly concerned that this nation must retain the ability to catch, process and distribute seafood products, not just for the economic benefit, but also to ensure that we can provide food for ourselves as the world's population rises and demand for all foodstuffs, including seafood, grows," said Seafish CEO John Rutherford.

"We must combine our concerns for the environment with the recognition that seafood is one of the most concentrated forms of protein, and one of the healthiest foods available, as study after study has demonstrated," he added.

According to the report, 86,000 people are employed by the U.K. seafood industry.

"As well as providing skilled jobs, Britain can also be rightly proud of its record on sustainability," said Rutherford. "More British fisheries are Marine Stewardship Council certified or in the process of certification than any other nation. What's more, the Responsible Fishing Scheme now includes more than 44 percent of the U.K. fleet by tonnage - more than 350 vessels. A further 300 vessels are undergoing certification, and 10 more are applying to join the scheme every month."

Marine and Coastal Access Bill of 2008-09 is aimed at delivering a sustainable and profitable seafood industry in the U.K., with more effective action to conserve fish stocks and habitats. The bill would streamline the existing marine licensing system, reform the existing fisheries management system and provide a framework for establishing marine conservation zones, among other things.

A draft bill was published on 3 April for public consultation and has been subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by Parliament.

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