Work is about to start on the installation of a vital new £1.2m ice production facility for Plymouth Fisheries at Sutton Harbour, England’s second largest fresh fish market.
Working with Plymouth Trawler Agents Ltd this investment by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, which owns Plymouth Fisheries, is being part funded by a £400,000 grant from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), which is administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
It will enable Plymouth Fisheries to run four separate machines capable of producing 30 tonnes of ice over a 24hr period.
Work on the new facility will start in early August and be completed before the end of the year. The plant is part of Sutton Harbour Holdings plc’s ongoing investment in Sutton Harbour as both a working port and one of the finest waterfront destinations in the UK, located in the heart of Plymouth’s oldest city quarter.
Pete Bromley, Harbour Master of Sutton Harbour, said: “This new plant will see Plymouth Fisheries strengthen its position as the second largest fresh fish market in England and one of the best places in the region to land a catch. Ice is the key part of any fish market, and the whole industry depends on it. Fish have to be constantly iced, from the moment they are caught right through to the time they are sold, in order to reach the consumer in prime condition.”
Alison Pessell of Plymouth Trawler Agents Ltd, which operates the auctions at Plymouth Fisheries, said: “The new ice plant will play a very important part in the preservation of a successful fishing industry in Plymouth. The existing processor has been in place since 1995, so the new plant is essential in order for the market to keep fulfilling the needs of fishermen. The industry revolves around the chill chain, the trawlers need a constant supply of ice, as does the market during the sorting process and the buyers shipping out the stock.”
Karen Davies, European Fisheries Fund (EFF) manager, said: “The Marine Management Organisation was pleased to be involved in this very worthwhile project. I am so pleased that we were able to fund these improvements, which really demonstrate the aims and objectives of the EFF scheme as an investor in communities as well as businesses.
Having four ice machines and separate storage units means that Plymouth Fisheries will be able to offer a continuous supply even if one machine is undergoing maintenance.
Plymouth Fisheries plays a significant role in the South West economy and is seen by many as the fisheries hub for the region. Estimated to sustain over 600 direct and indirect jobs, the market sells 6,000 tonnes of fish on average per year. The value of fish and shellfish landed at the market during the last financial year is £17.35m.
The Plymouth Trawler Agents digital ‘Dutch’ auction, which is unique in the region, means that over 70 per cent of the fish sold through the market comes by road from fishermen across the South West looking for the best price.