Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths today described a vision of a ‘thriving, vibrant, safe, and sustainable seafood industry for Wales’.
The Cabinet Secretary was speaking at an event in Cardiff as part of Seafood Week, an annual celebration of fish and Seafood.
During the event a ‘Wales Seafood Strategy’ was launched. Developed by the organisation ‘Seafish’, in partnership with the seafood industry, it identifies a vision for growth by embracing innovation and developing and pursuing opportunities in existing domestic and international markets. The strategy has a target of a thirty-percent increase in seafood production and to double aquaculture output by 2020. It also sets out how the industry can improve fishermen’s safety.
Lesley Griffiths also welcomed a pledge this week by the National Procurement Service for Wales to serve only verifiably sustainable fish in public sector venues including local authorities, hospitals, police and fire service, universities, colleges and historic sites including Cardiff Castle.
Lesley Griffiths said:
“Wales’ Seafood industry faces various challenges, not least the UK’s impending withdrawal from the EU. But it also faces many opportunities. I am confident the strategy being launched today will help guide the sector towards a thriving, vibrant, safe, and sustainable future. I am grateful to the industry for taking the lead in developing the vision and targets set out in the strategy.
“With more than 75% of our coastline in Marine Conservation Area our seafood is, by its very nature, sustainably sourced. It is excellent news that the National Procurement Service has signed the pledge to ensure all fish used in the Public Sector in Wales is sustainably sourced.
"The Well-being of Future Generations Act sets out clear plans for putting long-term sustainability at the heart of Cabinet decision making. Using our purchasing power to support a sustainable future for our oceans is a hugely important step – it will help ensure future generations can enjoy the benefits of eating fish."
Corporate Relations Director at Seafish, Mel Groundsell, said:
“Seafood Week offers a great opportunity to showcase the best of Welsh seafood and can make an important contribution to the Seafish Wales Advisory Committee’s ‘Wales Seafood Strategy.
“Last year, Seafood Week helped generate an additional £18m worth of additional sales - we’re looking to Welsh businesses to help us beat that target.”
Lesley Griffiths also highlighted the importance of access to the European single Market for Wales’ industries, including Seafood, and how Wales will seek to develop new markets in light of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU:
“I am well aware a very high proportion of Welsh seafood is exported to other EU member states. So any threat to our access to the single market is a threat to Wales’ fishing industry and associated businesses.
“I recognise the importance in protecting our access to this important market, if possible, and for identifying new markets beyond our European neighbours.”