UK industry consultation begins on Seafish’s increased levies

Seafish's booth at a recent trade fair
Seafish's booth at a recent trade fair | Photo courtesy of Seafish
2 Min

Non-departmental public body Seafish, which is based in the U.K., has started a formal 12-week consultation with the seafood industry on its proposals for increased charges. 

Seafish offers regulatory guidance and services to the seafood industry and related sectors, including restaurants and retailers. It is funded by a levy on the first sale of domestically landed and imported seafood in the U.K. The increased fees would be Seafish’s first levy change since 1999.

Following informal consultations with the industry on proposed changes to the levy system in spring 2023, the Seafish Board released a response in December that set out how it had considered the feedback received from stakeholders and revised its initial levy proposal.  

Seafish Board Chair Mike Sheldon said it was the organization’s priority to make the levy fit for purpose, fairer for all, and to ensure it can continue to support industry needs.  

“While we appreciate that the seafood industry is under financial pressure, our proposed changes strike a good balance, minimizing impacts on the industry while allowing us to effectively support the seafood sector as an organization,” Sheldon said. “This consultation is an important step in shaping a levy that better serves our stakeholders.” 

The current proposed changes to the Seafish levy include: 

  • The current sea fish levy rate of GBP 0.00903 per kilogram will be increased to GBP 0.01 per kilo. This will be renamed the “Category 1” levy
  • The current levy rate that applies to mussels, cockles, and pelagic fish will increase from GBP 0.00258 to GBP 0.005 per kilo over a three-year period
  • The current levy rate for whelks will increase from GBP 0.004515 to GBP 0.005 per kilo 
  • The levy for mussels, cockles, pelagic fish (as defined in regulation), and whelks will be renamed the “Category 2” levy 
  • The levy rates for manufactured fishmeal and “fish destined for fishmeal" will also increase, as follows: 
    • Manufactured fishmeal will increase from GBP 0.00175 to GBP 0.00315 per kilo  
    • Fish destined for fishmeal will increase from GBP 0.00035 to GBP 0.0005 per kilo
    • For the first time, levy will apply to canned, bottled, and pouched seafood products, for those species within the scope of the levy
    • The levy for all seafood and seafood products would be adjusted annually, subject to a cap on the annual adjustment of 2 percent 

    Additionally, Seafish is proposing minor changes to the administration of the levy to make collection and payment more efficient. 

    Currently, the levy is not charged on farmed salmon, trout, and freshwater fish species because these species are excluded by primary legislation nor is it currently charged on canned, bottled, and pouched seafood products.

    The statutory consultation on the proposed changes will be open until Friday 9 August 2024.  

    Seafish is collecting feedback via an independent online survey, and anyone with an interest in the Seafish levy as well as the wider seafood industry are invited to respond. They will also be hosting a series of webinars for stakeholders interested in learning more about the proposed changes.

    Once the formal consultation process ends, Seafish will make formal recommendations to the U.K. government, and these will be considered by relevant ministers. It said there isn’t yet a time frame for when ministers will reach a decision but advised that businesses will have as much notice as possible before any changes come into effect so that they can plan ahead.    

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