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Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post
David Laister

Seafood group sets out priorities for 'one of the largest processing clusters in the Northern Hemisphere'

Seafood industry leaders have underlined theit commitment to improving skills, research and international trade for a thriving regional sector.

A new umbrella organisation - the Seafood Grimsby & Humber Alliance - was formed in late 2020 to represent the processing cluster.

Simon Smith, chief executive of market-leading Young’s Seafood chairs its board, joined by contemporaries from Hilton Seafood, New England Seafoods, Andrew Marr International, The Fishmongers’ Company, Seafish Industry Authority and Grimsby Fish Merchants Association.

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He said: “The cluster comprises of 5,500 direct jobs and over 10,000 jobs in the supply chain, so the board are committed and dedicated to a strongly performing seafood cluster in the region - one that is highly competitive, throughout the value-chain with the larger businesses that supply retailers, SME employers through to the 100-plus independent mobile fishmongers.

“This past year we have made great strides in our key objectives and during the course of 2022 we’ll see improvements in our skills and research capacity with our partner, The National Centre for Food Manufacturing and microbiology laboratory and speciation testing with greater engagement with Eurofins Ltd.”

Simon Dwyer of Seafox Management Consultants, is responsible for managing the activities of the board and engaging stakeholders in delivering the key objectives.

He told how the main aim of 2021 was to engage skills partners, while also improving the sector’s laboratory testing services, while maintaining competitiveness with trade related matters for inbound flows.

Simon Smith, left, and Simon Dwyer. (Seafood Grimsby and Humber Alliance)

As reported, a major Community Renewal Fund grant was recently received, with almost half a million pounds to enhance the sector.

Dean of the University of Lincoln-led National Centre for Food Manufacturing Centre, Prof Val Braybrooks, is leading on the project with Mr Dwyer.

Speaking after the recent annual meeting, she said: “It is a privilege to be engaged with the cluster board and we are indebted to Simon Dwyer and the board’s members for aiding our understanding of the opportunities that exist for the university to support the seafood sector in our region and the national seafood processing sector more widely, in meeting the sector’s skills and research needs.

“Our partnership aims to significantly improve employment opportunities, enhance the industry’s skills and capability for innovation, and as such, Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership is fully supportive of our shared vision and plans.”

Mr Dwyer said a factor in the success of the cluster board is the engagement with partners including Fishmongers’ Company and Grimsby-based industry authority Seafish, who both have an insight and reach at national level.

Andrew Wallace, who represents the Fishmongers’ Company on the cluster board, said “The involvement is insightful and The Fishmongers’ Company has benefitted from the network reach the cluster has, particularly overseas, with some businesses importing as many as 30 species from 25 countries.”

It hosted an event for the Icelandic Embassy at Fishmongers’ Hall last year, and is gearing up for another about co-product use in May, having had to postpone a Norwegian Seafood Council gathering in January due to Covid.

“The cluster board has great foresight when it comes to understanding policy and regulation issues and is well placed with local MPs, government ministers and Defra to discuss what matters for the overall competitiveness,” he said.

Marcus Coleman, chief executive Seafish, added: “It is refreshing to be part of a cohesive and well structured group that is selflessly focused on the overall competitiveness of one of the largest processing clusters in the Northern Hemisphere.

“This group is an exemplar to other groups across the UK catching, processing and aquaculture sectors. The board’s focus on certain key issues allows the Seafish team to dovetail into supporting the activities especially, with regulation, market insight and Brexit matters.”

Further focus will be on carbon reduction and monitoring trade-related compliance and new regulations around physical checks and paperwork such as export health certificates for EEA and EU countries.

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