New association for the Welsh aquaculture industry launched
A new association to help Wales' aquaculture businesses improve their competitiveness and achieve international success has been launched at Port Penrhyn in Bangor, by Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones.
The initiative to establish the Welsh Aquaculture Producers' Association (WAPA) has been led by the Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research (CSAR) at Swansea University, in liaison with industry representatives and with the support of the Welsh Assembly Government, as a recommendation from the recently published Fisheries Strategy for Wales.
The Association will represent members' interests locally, nationally and internationally, ensuring that the aquaculture sector plays a full part in implementing strategies for the sustainable development of fisheries and high quality food production in Wales and beyond.
It will also provide direct practical support to members, in particular with regulatory and licensing issues, the provision of technical information and advice, trade representation, and assistance with marketing.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector worldwide and is making a growing contribution to the Welsh economy, thanks to the innovation, expertise and commitment of local businesses rearing fish, shellfish, and other valuable aquatic creatures.
The Fisheries Strategy for Wales, which is currently in consultation, sets out the combined aims and objectives of the capture fishery and aquaculture sectors in Wales, that are currently valued at approximately £200 million, employing around 3,000 people directly and indirectly.
Dr Robin Shields, Director of CSAR at Swansea University, said: "Wales is a leading innovator in the aquaculture industry, and there are many opportunities for the Association to help secure Welsh businesses, improve their performance and to attract new investments.
"There are considerable economic, environmental and societal gains to be made by constituting and effectively managing a new aquaculture lead body for Wales."
Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, who led the launch event at Port Penrhyn, said: "The Fisheries Strategy, which I launched for consultation at the end of last year stresses the importance of joined up working in the industry and a single representative body for aquaculture will be valuable in helping to make this happen.
"Marketing and trade advice is essential for the industry to capitalise on the rising demand and I am delighted that this assistance will be on offer to members."
Image caption: Pictured at the launch of the Welsh Aquaculture Producers' Association are (left to right) aquaculture consultant Dr David Fletcher, Phil Gatland of Selonda UK Ltd, Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, Director of CSAR at Swansea University Dr Robin Shields, and James Wilson of Deep Dock Ltd, in the wheelhouse of Deep Dock's state-of-the-art mussel dredger, Mare Gratia B932.