Summary of Responses

Following the discussion with industry in the autumn of 2011, Seafish recognised that there were areas of the levy that required review and embarked on a discussion process in the summer of 2013.

Seafish proposed to reduce the levy by 10%, and that this reduction should not apply to cockles, mussels, whelks, pelagic fish, fish for fishmeal and imported fishmeal.  Levy payers were invited to participate in a questionnaire with the two key questions being:

  • Do you agree that the proposed 10% levy reduction is correct?
  • Do you agree that the proposed reduction should not apply to cockles, mussels, whelks, pelagic fish, fish for fishmeal and imported fishmeal?

Seafish received a total of fifty-nine responses, in the form of questionnaires and letters, from the discussion document sent out. Forty-eight were from individuals and companies, and eleven from Associations. Of the forty-eight from individuals and companies, forty three were from levy payers. Of the eleven responses from associations, four were viewed as representing the interests of levy payers.

We believe that the replies received show a fair representation of the seafood industry. Responses have come from all administrative areas and from most sectors of the industry.

To add weight to the viewpoint of levy payers and the associations representing them, an amount of levy was attributed to each. The four associations were viewed as representing the views of levy payers paying £2.8m per annum in levy. Where an individual levy payer has responded, the levy amount attributed to the individual has been deducted from the association total. The views of associations account for 66% of the £4.28m levy attributed to respondents. The overall levy received is around £8m.

Respondents who have not expressed a view on a question have been excluded from the analysis.

Levy Reduction

75% of respondents stated that they wished to see a reduction in levy paid. This also accounted for 70% of the attributed levy income. However, one association asked for a greater reduction of 25% on imported fish to be considered. They suggested that Seafish had a £10m surplus and should use this along with asking for more levy from UK landed fish to fund the requested cut.

Most individual companies are in favour of a reduction, no matter where they are located. Associations are split on geographical lines, with those in Scotland wanting the levy rates to remain the same, while those representing levy payers in England would like to see a 10% or greater cut.

 

Do you agree that the proposed 10% levy reduction is correct?

Answer

By number of responses

By levy paid or represented

Yes

42

70.13%

No

14

29.87%

Levy Reduction (not to apply to all species)

62% of respondents agreed that any reduction should not apply to species (cockles, mussels, whelks, pelagic fish and fishmeal) which receive preferable rates currently. The percentage of attributed levy agreeing with this point is 67%. Again there is a geographical split with companies in England believing that the reductions should not apply to species with a preferable rate, whilst other parts of the UK held a contrary opinion.

 

Do you agree that the proposed reduction should not apply to cockles, mussels, whelks, pelagic fish, fish for fishmeal and imported fishmeal?

Answer

By number of responses

By levy paid or represented

Yes

32

67.07%

No

20

32.93%

Other questions

Do you agree that Seafish's annual income should normally match its annual expenditure?

81% of respondents agreed with this. In terms of levy paid or represented the figure was 50%. The levy represented by two associations is the cause of this low figure of agreement.

One association did not believe that annual income should always meet expenditure, but that income should meet expenditure over the medium term (eg a 3-5 year period). It has stated that surplus funds held by Seafish should go towards increased expenditure over a period of years. They did say that in normal circumstances they would support the argument that income should match expenditure. This would make the number in agreement by levy paid 77% rather than 50%. 

Another association also disagreed and in the comments said that expenditure should match income.

Do you agree that the levy should be reviewed on a regular basis?

The vast majority of respondents agreed. Only three respondents answered no on the basis that regular reviews would adversely affect the business and that a decrease this year would lead to an increase next year.

Do you agree that Seafish should continue working towards a simpler and fairer system?

Only two respondents disagreed with this viewpoint, although the comments which accompanied the answers suggested that they would in fact like to see the introduction of a simpler system.