The UK’s Fishing Minister paid a visit to Plymouth Fisheries to hear first-hand from fishermen and staff about issues affecting the South West fishing industry.
Defra Minister George Eustice MP met with Pete Bromley, Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, and Jason Schofield, Chief Executive of Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, which owns and operates many of the essential services within the fisheries complex - the second largest fish market in England.
They took the opportunity to outline the company’s vision to develop the fisheries complex into a world-class fishing hub and a key part of the visitor experience in Plymouth, similar to Sydney Fish Market.
Plymouth Trawler Agents (PTA), which operates the daily auction held at the fish market each morning, and other fishing representatives also met with Mr Eustice, who was accompanied by Oliver Colvile MP Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport.
Pete Bromley, Manager of Plymouth Fisheries, said: “It was a really positive visit and Mr Eustice was extremely receptive as we outlined the position of the local fishing industry, what is needed, and what we hope to see achieved in Plymouth.
“The point we wanted to get across was that given the way the industry is going, the amount of fish likely to be coming could increase so substantially that harbour authorities will need more investment to provide the infrastructure necessary to accommodate it.
“We explained how we want to do this in Plymouth, outlining the Vision for the area of Sutton Harbour and the work we are undertaking to inform Plymouth’s Joint Local Plan and the investment in under-performing parts of the fisheries complex, to help us fund and renew the vital infrastructure we will need, particularly around the fish market auction building itself, to improve the performance and protect the fisheries for the future, and to grow the business in the city and the region.”
Plymouth Fisheries is viewed by many as the fisheries hub of the South West, supporting 565 jobs and contributing £22.6million a year to the local economy.
The Vision for Sutton Harbour, published more than two years ago, considers the potential to redevelop some currently under performing and largely unoccupied fish processing merchants’ units at the entrance to the fisheries complex, with this development able to help the company ‘significantly protect and enhance the fish market’s operational requirements’ as a result.
Jason Schofield, Chief Executive of Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, said: “We’d like to see parts of the fisheries complex which aren’t being used to their full potential be reconfigured, to make Plymouth Fisheries much more accessible to the public and the centerpiece of a thriving waterfront, on a par with somewhere like Sydney Fish Market in Australia and many other fisheries around the world.
“It was very helpful to have a chance to outline this concept to Mr Eustice, and to discuss with him the growing pressures impacting on the region’s fishing industry and the ways in which we are seeking to address those. We also highlighted to the Minister the unfair burden which high rates can place on smaller ports.”