Seafish is to drop its Love Seafood consumer marketing campaign.
A strategic review into the work of the industry authority, a non-departmental public body, found it was not a key priority of stakeholders in the sector.
Extensive consultation last summer established six key areas to focus on, and with “resources currently spread too thin” it is axing the promotional push to get people to eat more fish.
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Instead the teams based in Grimsby and Edinburgh will be tasked with aiding the industry with workforce issues, industry reputation, climate change, international trade, innovation and insight and fisheries management.
Marcus Coleman, chief executive, said: “Our purpose at Seafish is to give the UK seafood sector the support it needs to thrive.
“The Strategic Review has given us a fantastic opportunity to ask industry and Government how we can work in partnership to achieve that aspiration.
“We are pleased to say it has given us a strong steer and mandate going forward and a renewed sense that industry needs our support now more than ever.”
Mr Coleman said it had been proven that there was an overwhelming need for Seafish to continue, although a review of the funding model will begin. Drawing a levy on first sale on British soil, any changes will require legislative action, with the process to start later this year with further consultation on proposals to alter what was last looked at in 1999.
The Covid-delayed piece of work had begun with suggestions the levy could be fairer across species or index-linked.
Seafish said it will now ask the Government to amend legislation to create a more agile and responsive system; adjust levy rates where appropriate to ensure it can support the delivery of its priorities and commitments and review inclusion of all product forms and species within the remit of the levy to achieve a fair and inclusive system.
Subject to ministerial approval from across the four administrations, Seafish will now start to implement a set of recommendations made by its board. These will support the development of the organisation’s five-year corporate plan, to begin in 2023.
Mr Coleman added: “To give industry more support with its priorities, we have taken the decision to stop our consumer marketing through Love Seafood from April 1 this year.
“We also want to take this opportunity to thank the seafood industry for taking the time to give us their views. We will share more details on the recommendations soon and we want to keep the conversation open as we start to shape the future of Seafish.”
Love Seafood was launched in October 2020 as a consumer brand platform, driven by a 20-year initiative to reverse decline in seafood consumption. The aim was to influence and inspire consumers to add more fish and shellfish into their diets.
Costly advertising across radio, TV, print, outdoor and streaming platforms heralded what had been billed as a long-term initiative, with the team describing it as a “single powerful message built and owned by the seafood industry”.
There had been strong buy-in from Grimsby - the UK processing capital and gateway to the retailers - with some businesses involved in the crafting of the message.
Responding, Simon Dwyer, secretariat to the Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association, said: “Grimsby is a major contributor to the overall seafood levy income, and large, medium and small businesses all bought into the consultation in 2021 with points of view, and it appears Seafish has listened.
“We feel that marketing and promotion of seafood across the UK, encouraging consumption, is better done by businesses themselves, whether through large businesses with television campaigns or micro businesses on social media.
“There are mixed reactions in terms of the levy, in terms of bringing in other species, and in terms of how much it should actually be.
“We will have to watch this space as any change will have to go through legislation.”
Mr Dwyer, also an integral part of the Seafood Grimsby and Humber Alliance, is behind the Made Great in Grimsby campaign to promote products produced in the town at a consumer level.
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