Developing seafood trails for Northern Ireland

Our Northern Ireland Regional Manager talks about trails created to connect families with local seafood, fishing harbours and communities.

Producing the Northern Ireland seafood trails 

In March 2021, we secured funding from the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund to create a series of seafood trails in fishing port and harbour towns across Northern Ireland. This project aimed to highlight the array of locally caught and farmed fish and shellfish and the businesses and people behind it.

The trails promote a variety of activities, places and eateries. They were designed to educate a target audience of mid-market and economically stretched families about the health benefits, accessibility and affordability of seafood in Northern Ireland.

Each trail features a ‘hero’ species relevant to the area. For each hero species there is information on its sustainability, seasonality and the associated fishery, as well as a quick and easy recipe to try at home. The content of the trails was informed by knowledge shared by our local stakeholders and communities.

The trails were designed by Mindfully Wired Communications, and the descriptors feature beautiful illustrations by Mourne artist Piera Cirefice.

Illustrated trail map showing trails
An image from the Northern Ireland Seafood Trails leaflet

Launching and promoting the trails

This spring we shared materials about the trails with over 100 primary schools across Northern Ireland. We also directly engaged with 10 schools through fun classroom-based sessions. These sessions aimed to educate a new generation about our local seafood industry and encourage them to explore the trails with their families. This direct engagement was purposefully targeted at inland schools, which are less connected to the seafood industry than those located nearer fishing port and harbour towns.

We also created a trailer to introduce the seafood trails:

Introducing the Northern Ireland Seafood Trails! Nine adventures along the Northern Irish coast, from Kilkeel all the way up to Portrush.

On 21 May, the Northern Ireland Seafood Trails were officially launched at a party at the iconic St George’s Market in Belfast, home to one of Ireland’s oldest and most famous fish markets. The market was adorned with bunting and banners showcasing the trails and fish stall holders handed out map pamphlets to passers-by. Celebrity chef Suzie Lee, winner of the BBC Best Home Cook 2020, was also there. She provided live cooking demos for over 100 spectators, who also got to try some delicious tasters and take home recipes created specifically for the event.  

Three people in aprons standing behind kitchen demo counter
A launch party for the Northern Ireland Seafood Trails at St George’s Market featured local celebrity chef Suzie Lee

So far 15,000 map pamphlets have been distributed to seafood businesses, schools, tourist outlets, fish box schemes and cookery schools across Northern Ireland. Promotional posters are also on display at the trail stops. The project has received wide spread media interest, with articles in Belfast News Letter and Farming Life. It’s also had social media coverage via Discover Northern Ireland, as well as the NI Seafood Trail Instagram account, which has 220 followers and counting. 

Feedback on the trails 

From initial identification of industry need to stakeholder-steered design, project delivery and outputs, the Northern Ireland Seafood Trails initiative demonstrates what can be achieved through collaboration. We’re delighted to have received positive feedback from stakeholders involved.

It’s brilliant to be part of this creative, forward-thinking initiative. Northern Ireland has such a rich fishing heritage and is home to countless small seafood businesses that deserve to be put on the map. The trails are perfect for local families keen to explore their patch of coastline, try some delicious food, and meet the many friendly faces of the seafood industry. If you do the Strangford & Portaferry trail, pop in and say hello!
Steven Kilgore, The Lobster Pot, Strangford
We’re thrilled to have taken part in the NI Seafood Trails launch in beautiful St George’s Market, where Suzie Lee shared how easy it is to whip up delicious seafood dishes at home, like her gorgeous Whitefish Gratin and punchy Egg Noodles with Chilli, Ginger & Spring Onion Mussels. We could see how much everyone there really enjoyed tasting them and taking note of Suzie’s recipes! There are so many different Seafood Trail maps for people to take, from Portrush on the North Coast to Kilkeel in the Mournes! We’re excited for all the NI Seafood Trails to bring renewed interest to the fishing and maritime heritage of our capital city and the fishing villages along our rich coastline.
Grainne O’Loane, Fish City Belfast
The NI Seafood Trails provide a great platform to celebrate the variety of seafood that Northern Ireland has to offer. By exploring the bustling fishing port and harbour towns that feature on these trails, and learning about Northern Ireland’s rich fishing heritage along the way, families will be encouraged to eat more locally sourced, sustainable and healthy seafood, and through this, help our vital seafood industry to thrive.
Alan McCulla OBE CEO Anglo North Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation

Find out more

You can visit the trails website by using the link below:

All artwork created for the trails is available to download from our online asset bank from the link below. You will need to create an account to get into asset bank. Then you can log in and go to the Northern Ireland Seafood Trails category to browse the files. 

Further information

For further information about this project, please contact Sally Chamberlain, email sally.chamberlain@seafish.co.uk or call 07866 141 872.