Shoppers are being encouraged to source their festive seafood responsibly from local Welsh producers this Christmas.
The Welsh seafood industry is home to an array of high quality, sustainable produce, and consumers can show their support by choosing to buy fish and shellfish caught and processed by Welsh seafood businesses. Details of producers and suppliers can be found on the Cywain food producers map (to visit click here)
Efforts to spread the Welsh seafood message have been stepped up by industry bodies. And at the vanguard of support for the industry is the Wales Seafood Cluster – a Cywain-led project that encourages collaborative working among companies and individuals in the seafood industry.
The Seafood Cluster has been instrumental in establishing several promotional activities for the sector, including branding and a tailored 1-to-1 programme of support and offering opportunities for producers to trade at consumer-facing events such as the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.
There is also activity to support those who derive their livelihoods from the sea and Welsh coast and the challenges of being part of a demanding industry.
Launched just over a year ago, the Women In Welsh Fisheries (WIWF) group is at the forefront of promoting sustainable Welsh seafood and the many key roles women play in the sector.
Facilitated by the Seafood Cluster, the group was initially established as a vehicle to enable women from within the fishing industry to meet, share experiences, and raise awareness of their work and lives within a safe and supportive forum.
The group is now looking to expand its membership further to encourage more women to think of taking up a career in the fishing industry and heighten consumer awareness of Welsh seafood. Anyone interested can express an interest by contacting the Wales Seafood Cluster.
WIWF member Carol Evans, who ran a fishing business with her husband and works with the Welsh Fishermen’s Association, said,
“The seafood industry in Wales has experienced many challenges over the past year. Through these difficult times, the Welsh Seafood community has been grateful for the continued support of the Welsh Seafood Cluster, including the continued work within the Welsh Women in Fisheries forum, which allows us to share experiences.
“The Forum has been and continues to be a great asset to its members by becoming a safe space to share information and network. We are aiming to develop some campaigns over the coming year to encourage people to buy locally sourced seafood which will keep the food miles low and support the local economy, with a fantastic range of fish and shellfish, sustainably harvested from Welsh seas, providing an important source of healthy, low carbon protein from a naturally renewing source for generations to come.”
Welsh seafood continues to be promoted on platforms at home and abroad. Including in Spain at the world’s largest trade event for the sector – Seafood Expo Global 2022.
Featuring more than 2,000 companies from 89 countries and attracting over 50,000 delegates, the event in Barcelona is acknowledged as ‘the place’ to be for the seafood industry, and the event attracts suppliers, buyers and seafood professionals from every corner of the globe looking for everything from seafood to processing equipment.
Under the auspices of the Welsh Seafood Cluster on behalf of Welsh Government, several Welsh seafood companies presented their products to an unrivalled expert audience. While chef Harri Alun from the renowned Carden Park Hotel in Cheshire prepared samples for potential buyers to taste throughout the event.
To coincide with Seafood Expo Global 2023, an all-encompassing Welsh seafood brand designed by the Welsh Seafood Cluster and specifically aimed at the global and export marketplace will be launched.
Nia Griffith, North Wales Seafood Cluster Manager, said,
“We know Welsh seafood is of the highest quality, and it is used by some of the best chefs in the world. We want to increase the visibility of Welsh seafood on the global stage by creating a clear brand that signifies to everyone the provenance of this fantastic, sustainably caught produce. In doing so, we hope to raise the profile of Welsh seafood and celebrate all of the seafood heroes we have here in Wales.”
Initiatives also included a St David’s Day seafood celebration lunch. Held at the renowned London boutique hotel L’Oscar, it was attended by a host of distinguished award-winning chefs, food writers, and representatives from prestigious restaurants, including The Dorchester Hotel, Chotto Matte, and One Aldwych.
The event was coordinated by the Chefs Forum, which was assisted by catering and hospitality students who participated in Welsh Seafood Chef’s Academy sessions with the Welsh Seafood Cluster.
Accompanying the array of produce on display was a directory – published for the event – of Welsh seafood businesses that currently offer a delivery and distribution service to retailers, wholesalers, restaurants and individual customers anywhere in the UK.
Looking forward to 2023, the Seafood Cluster’s diary is already filling up with events and initiatives to promote Welsh seafood.
Among them is an extension to the successful lobster ‘branded claw band’ scheme, which was developed following requests from fishermen to help Welsh lobsters stand out in the crowd.
When caught, lobsters have rubber bands placed on their claws to prevent them from hurting themselves and those handling them. Under the branding scheme, lobsters are fitted with bands that clearly identify them as being caught in Welsh waters by Welsh fishermen.
Next year, a similar scheme will be launched featuring a tagging system for Welsh seabass and the development of a website where details and profiles of the fishers who caught the fish and into which port are available.
Nia Griffith said,
“The Seafood Cluster is certainly in for another busy period at the start of 2023. We look forward to sharing these exciting developments with the industry and consumers.”