Levy discussion

Seafish has changed. In autumn 2011 we asked industry their views on whether the 21st century seafood industry still needed a body like Seafish. They responded with an emphatic "yes", but said that change was needed to make Seafish the body they required, and asked Seafish to improve its offer.

Proposals to reduce levy by 10% - deadline for response midnight September 6th 2013

The four UK Fisheries Ministers agreed that Seafish should overhaul its approach to designing corporate strategy and provide greater transparency about how activities are agreed. New Industry Panels were created to identify their sector's priorities, work streams and resources. The Board used these recommendations to put together Seafish's new corporate plan which, for the first time, has been developed through a bottom-up approach.

The industry also believed that a statutory levy remained the fairest way to fund an organisation whose objectives span the diverse industry. Ministers acknowledged the importance of ensuring the levy is collected on a fair basis and noted that a review of levy rates had not been undertaken in the last decade. Ministers therefore agreed that a review of the levy should take place once Seafish had published its Corporate Plan. In response, Seafish are keen to explore a number of potential changes to the levy over the next few years and are beginning discussions with industry on a proposal to reduce the levy rate.

Seafish invited opinions on proposals to;

  1. Reduce the amount of levy collected to a projected total annual levy income of £7.2m.
  2. Achieve this by reducing the standard rate of levy by 10%.
  3. Rates charged on cockles, mussels, whelks, pelagic fish, fish for fishmeal and imported fishmeal will remain unchanged.

Rationale for change

The proposed changes are designed to ensure that the amount of levy collected balances the expenditure proposed in the corporate plan.

The proposal to reduce the standard levy rate by 10% is a step towards the fairer system required by industry. It will narrow the gap between the standard rate and the lower rates that certain categories, such as cockles, mussels, whelks, pelagic fish, fish for fishmeal and imported fishmeal, attract. For example, the levy on pelagic fish is less than 30% of the standard rate, whereas the value of certain pelagic species, such as mackerel, is higher than some species on which levy is charged at the standard rate, e.g. dogfish. The reduction in 10% of standard rate is in our view the simplest, fairest and most straightforward way to implement a reduction in levy.

A reduction of more than 10% at this stage risks leaving Seafish with a shortfall in income and unable to fulfil its duties as specified by industry.

The consultation with industry on a potential levy reduction of 10% has now closed. Thank you to those who took part in the discussions online and via post. We will now consider our response to the replies we received and publish it shortly. More announcement will be made via our newsletter, online here at our website and via the trade press.