Plymouth Fisheries has showcased its ice production facility completed as part of a £1.2million project to support the region’s vital fishing industry to some of the organisations which helped to secure funding for the scheme.

The ice plant unveiled this spring at England’s second largest fresh fish market based in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour is part of an ongoing £1.2m investment in the complex by owners Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, and has been part-funded by grants totaling more than £500,000 from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

Senior officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the MMO and the programme monitoring committee for the European Fisheries Fund and its successor, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), visited Plymouth Fisheries on Thursday 19th November to see the completed development and learn more about plans for the future.

A group of 22 people including officials from Defra’s EMFF Policy team, the EMFF UK Managing Authority, UK Co-ordinating Body and the MMO were joined by representatives from the Association of Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities, Cornwall Fisheries Local Action Group, Seafish, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, British Port Authority and British Trout Association for the visit, which was hosted by the Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, Pete Bromley.

After touring the ice plant facility, the visitors were taken on a boat trip before returning to Sutton Harbour for lunch and a short presentation by Sutton Harbour Holdings Chief Executive Jason Schofield on future plans for the fisheries complex and the area’s regeneration.

Michelle Willis, MMO Chief Finance Officer who has responsibility for overseeing both the UK and England European Fisheries Fund (EFF) programme, said: “It is always great to be able to visit places like Plymouth Fisheries and see the difference funding from the European Fisheries Fund can make to the fishing industry.

European funding provides a vital link to fishing communities and it is rewarding to see the change it is making to peoples’ lives.”

The ongoing £1.2million investment in Plymouth Fisheries has enabled a new ice plant to be created at the fisheries complex to guarantee the provision of ice on site 24 hours a day, offering an essential service to the region’s fishermen.

A further £30,000 is being invested in updating facilities at the fisheries complex, including a major upgrade of the external lighting systems.

Pete Bromley, Harbour Master and Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, said: The entire fishing industry depends on a constant supply of ice so it was vital that Plymouth Fisheries replaced the old plant to meet the needs of fishermen using the complex.

“We were delighted to welcome senior officials from the MMO and Defra who secured the European Fisheries Fund grants which have helped to make this investment possible, and to show them around the completed chill chain project which includes the ice plant, a brand new chiller, and the complete refurbishment of existing chiller facilities. The addition of a second chiller has increased fish handling capacity by around 50 per cent.”

Plymouth Fisheries has revitalised the local fishing industry since the purpose-built complex was opened in Fish Quay by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc 20 years ago.

Now the second largest fish market in England, a recent independent report revealed that Plymouth Fisheries supports 565 jobs and contributes £22.6million a year to the city’s economy. 

Jason Schofield, Chief Executive of Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, said: Plymouth Fisheries is committed to supporting the region’s fishing industry and doing anything we can to improve the service we provide to local fisherman to help this industry grow and thrive.

“The EFF grant was instrumental in helping to fund the much-needed new ice plant, which will transform the facilities we can offer in Sutton Harbour and enable Plymouth’s fish market to strengthen its already impressive national position, and we were proud to showcase the results of this investment to those who helped make this project possible.”