Marcus Coleman's June Blog

Posted by Marcus Coleman, CEO on 07 June 2016

Is it just me? Or is there a really upbeat, positive feeling blowing through our industry at the moment? It certainly feels that way wherever I look.

The Seafish Board visited Shetland in May and much was learnt about the positive way in which Shetland's Local Authority has worked in partnership with the industry. The Fish Market & 'electronic' Shetland Seafood Auction at Lerwick is proving to be a great success. The volume of fish landed in the Shetland Islands (not including shellfish) is more than England, Northern Ireland and Wales put together! The shellfish aquaculture sector is booming and the 2015 Fish and Chips Award Champions, 'Frankies Fish and Chips' are doing a roaring trade in Brae. Oh, and did I mention the impressive and ambitious NAFC Marine Centre education and scientific research facility at Scalloway? There are just too many people to mention but thank you to everyone who helped ensure our visit was a success - including Shetland Catch who provided a very fitting venue for our Seafish Board meeting.

The Shellfish Association of Great Britain held its magnificent 48th Annual Conference at Fishmongers Hall on 24th/25th May. The SAGB certainly know how to put together a compelling conference programme. Speakers from home and abroad provided a series of thought-provoking and informative presentations. The event was also an excellent platform for SAGB members to hear about all the valuable work SAGB is doing on their behalf; some very real challenges that SAGB have tackled head on.

On the 26th May The Fishing News Awards were held at the Aberdeen Treetops Hotel. What a celebration this turned out to be. I understand that this event marked the return of the awards after a few years away. A great call by The Fishing News! There must have been more than 250 guests united in celebrating all that is good in the world of fishing and seafood processing. We were delighted to be sponsoring one of the awards and supporting the event. A great night was had by all - congratulations to all those nominated for awards - some fantastic stories of business innovation and endeavour.

The very next day saw the start of the 2016 Skipper Expo at the Aberdeen Conference Centre. Seafish was present with its stand offering safety advice and tools for skippers as well as information about our new Responsible Fishing Scheme. The event was really well attended with a great turnout from both Expo visitors and stand holders. We hear that there are many new vessels on order and that business for many is as positive as it has been for quite some time.

So, there is much to celebrate in our industry at the moment. At Seafish, while we welcome these positive sentiments, we also know that there is much to be done in our quest to help the industry be more profitable, sustainable and socially responsible. As one of the speakers at the SAGB conference, I used that opportunity to reflect on some of the 'wicked issues' that continue to present challenges. These include:
• our safety record - improving slowly, but arguably too slowly
• the consumption of seafood - increases in Food Service servings, but retail volumes still declining
• social responsibility - increasing media spotlight being shone on this area, but we are addressing the issues
• regulations - more numerous, and potentially costlier, than ever before
• new entrants into the industry - all sectors reporting challenges securing new, young people into our businesses

Let's see if we can harness some of the positivity that seems to be about at the moment and use it to make further progress as an industry.