From Iceland with fish: Grimsby's seafood industry leaders buoyed by trade visit
MEN ON A MISSION: Marcus Coleman, left, and Simon Dwyer, flank Michael Nevin, British Ambassador to Iceland outside his official residence.
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 19 Sep 2017
A STRONG delegation from Grimsby is toasting a positive visit to Iceland, as it held the first World Seafood Congress since it came to North East Lincolnshire in 2015.
The event coincided with major industry exhibition IceFish, and comes as organisers prepare to host Humber Seafood Summit in Cleethorpes next month.
Upbeat reports on discussions held to maintain and improve on the 64,000 tonnes of seafood that head south have emerged, with an exhibition stand taken at last week’s show.
Cluster organisation Seafood Grimsby and Humber joined with the British Embassy in Iceland to host a reception, and the turn out from the Icelandic businesses underlined the commitment, welcomed by travelling representatives. They included senior figures from Atlantic Fresh, market operator Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises and a host of other businesses, as well as industry authority Seafish.
British Ambassador to Iceland, Michael Nevin, said: “The impressive turn out from Icelandic companies to meet the Grimsby businesses at our networking reception was testimony to the strong and enduring relationship that has been created. There were discussions about how to do more business. Given the two governments’ strong commitment to free trade and our desire for as frictionless as possible future arrangements, there was a sense that, once there was clarity, the increasing sophistication of the sector could be further exploited.”
Hours after the exhibition closed a snap election was called in Iceland after one of the power-sharing groups walked away from government, but it was over justice matters rather than seafood.
Martyn Boyers, chief executive of market operator Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises, said: “The visit went well. We had a good stand, the council did a good job with Atlantic Fresh, and we met a number of people concerning getting supplies to the market, which is good.
“We had some good discussions with existing customers, which is very positive, and a meeting with the ambassador. He was very keen on the opportunities existing between us and Iceland, and maintaining trade. We also talked with some old fishermen who reminisced about Freeman Street and some of the pubs, so there were talks about old times and new times, and all positive!
“Iceland has changed as a country since the financial crash. It has picked itself up. The processing side of the industry, the way they have developed it, is very interesting, but there is still a huge appetite for exporting whole fresh fish. We have got to be able to work with them to make sure we continue. It is 65 per cent of the business, it plays a very important part, and we cemented a few relationships.”
Equally enthused was Simon Dwyer, who plays a key role in Seafood Grimsby and Humber, as well as acting as secretariat of Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association. He picked up on supply, promotion and innovation threads.
He said: “It was an opportunity to showcase the Grimsby cluster opportunity with the help of the ambassador to meet partners interested in the supply of fish to Grimsby.
“We believe there is opportunity to grow the volume out of Iceland in to Grimsby. We also had good discussions with Promote Iceland about highlighting the credentials of Icelandic seafood that comes via Grimsby into the retailer and food service marketplace. That is something that will be followed up.”
Introductions were also made to Ocean Cluster, a similar organisation in Iceland to Seafood Grimsby and Humber, with proposals to work together on competitiveness and innovation. It is looking at medical uses for fish skins, as the whole chain is analysed for value. There is also synergies to exploit between fisheries colleges there and Grimsby Institute.”
As well as speaking at the main event, the day before Humber Seafood Summit Mr Dwyer will host a Brexit workshop, following on from last year’s introduction, post referendum.
Marcus Coleman, chief executive of Seafish, said: “We were very grateful to the UK Ambassador for making his residence available to us in Iceland last week. We were able to bring together companies from the Grimsby and Humber region with companies from Iceland. The event was really well attended and served to foster closer trading ties between the partners. It is clear that we all share the same business goal to see more people eating more fish more often!”