government commitment fishing NFFO

NFFO Chief Executive believes the UK Government needs to show its commitment to the fishing industry following the first Farm-to-Fork Summit

Following the first Farm-to-Fork Summit at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday 16 May NFFO Chief Executive believes that the UK Government needs to show it is committed to the fishing industry.

The summit saw UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and Defra Secretary, Therese Coffey met with representatives from across the whole UK food supply chain. The summit was held to examine how government and industry can work together to support a thriving UK food industry.

In June 2022 the government published the Government Food Strategy, which set out its vision for a prosperous agri-food sector that ensures a secure food supply. The government says that the UK Farm to Fork Summit is the next step in growing a thriving British food and drink sector, which will put more British produce on supermarket shelves in the UK and around the world.

The summit leaned towards agriculture with eight areas under discussion:

1: Innovation in the farming and food sectors

2: Skills and sufficient labour

3: New farming schemes

4: Fairer supply chains

5: Boosting exports

6: Water security

7: Energy security

8: Cutting red tape

Despite the agriculture heavy agenda, the NFFO Chief said he believed he heard a positive position towards the fishing industry as the Prime Minister committed to a £1 million Seafood Exports Package, which the he stated was, “building on our wider £100 million investment in infrastructure and skills to support our seafood industry.”

Speaking after the Summit, NFFO Chief Executive, Mike Cohen stated:

“Although, as event’s title suggests, the focus was terrestrial – and so too were the major policy announcements that the Prime Minster made on the day – nevertheless, there was ample opportunity to ensure that the fishing industry’s key concerns were on the agenda. Discussions covered labour shortages, access to fishing grounds and the need to balance nature conservation objectives with food security.

“The government has now made it clear that food production – both for Britain’s own security and as one of our most successful exports – will be given high priority. They have also made it clear that fishing is an important part of this.

“If this is a real commitment and not just an attempt to pacify an industry placed under increased pressure by the government’s own policies, we should expect to see it reflected in actions. We should expect to see our access to fishing grounds protected; unnecessary and restrictive regulations rethought; fishing prioritised in international negotiations.

“Time will tell,” he concluded.

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