The Exporters Forum sets sail

Since the vote to leave the EU on 23 June 2016, the Seafish regulation team have seen an increase in export related enquiries. Given the UK’s changing relationship with the EU and the role of the team to facilitate and assist proportionate regulation, we soon recognised the need to enhance our export expertise.

By 2019, the regulation team had become ideally placed to assist stakeholders and governments alike with the exportation of seafood. The success of this journey was recognised with an invitation to collaborate with UK Government on a series of Brexit readiness workshops intended to prepare the seafood sector for a ‘no deal’ scenario. In eight weeks we presented at 14 workshops to over 400 people and above all, export procedures dominated discussions.

An opportunity for self-reflection arrived in November 2019: What more can Seafish do to support its exporters through this significant economic change? UK Government want to improve their outreach with UK seafood exporters and they likewise want to collaborate closer with the UK government, so we had a vision to build a boat!

We pictured a boat that would bring together UK seafood exporters, local authorities and government representatives from across the devolved UK authorities to prepare for the changes a new relationship with the European Union may bring. The boat’s vision was built around the needs of its members to provide a platform for discussion, where industry could identify barriers to trade and work with government to overcome them. A vision of an arena where government could consult with seafood exporters on upcoming free trade agreement negotiations.

In less than two months it attracted over 60 individuals from 44 organisations and government departments and this month we broke a bottle of champagne over the bow and named our metaphorical boat the Exporters Forum.

This month, the Exporters Forum met and confirmed its purpose to “facilitate communication between UK seafood exporters, local authorities, government and representatives from the exporting infrastructure on issues which fall within the scope of the Forum. The Exporters Forum intends to provide a forum for information sharing and the opportunity to identify issues and explore solutions.”

The Forum will meet twice a year and more frequently on a virtual basis. The first meeting provided a foundation for the Forum’s future work, with key messages on vessel hygiene inspection, catch certificates and financial support.  

If you are involved in seafood exports and want to get involved in the Exporters Forum, please contact Hannah Thompson by email – hannah.thompson@seafish.co.uk