Report on Co Down's Seafood Potential Launched During Seafood Week
Report on County Down’s Seafood Potential Launched During Seafood Week
Developing a local and visitor market for fish landed in County Down’s three fishing ports is the ultimate aim of a County Down Seafood Report, launched this week by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership, (SLLP), coinciding with Seafood Week (10-16 October).
84% of fish and shellfish landings into Northern Ireland come through Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie. However, the great majority of the Nephrops (Dublin Bay Prawn), scallop and herring are sold to NI processors and traders for subsequent export and are not easily available locally.
The Report found that there are constraints in terms of supply, but buyers in Northern Ireland are expressing a greater interest in local provenance and seafood suppliers would appreciate help in encouraging people to “buy local”.
There is also increasing demand from visitors to sample distinctive local food and to taste traditional cooking.
Isabel Hood, SLLP Advisory Committee Chair commented, “Tourism NI have indicated that the Strangford Lough Destination (which includes the fishing ports of Ardglass and Portavogie) has a higher proportion of artisan food producers than anywhere else in Northern Ireland and the neighbouring Mourne Destination, with Kilkeel Fishing Port, also has a strong food representation”.
Promoting seafood as part of the wider food offering to make the area a distinctive food destination, engaging “food ambassadors” for the area, and heightening the food offering on the Destination websites are just some of the recommendations from the Report, which is available for download on www.strangfordlough.org.
The County Down Seafood Report was funded by the European Union and the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, through Axis 4 of the European Fisheries Fund, administered by the South East Area (SEA) European Fisheries Fund.
Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Naomi Bailie said, “I am very excited by the opportunities that the Seafood Report offers to the wider area, particularly given the focus on 2016 as the year of food”.
Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Alderman Alan Graham, also welcomed the Report and commented on the importance of food tourism to the local economy.
SLLP appointed BTS consultants, in association with Poseidon ARM Ltd. to produce the Report, consulting with the industry and assessing the potential. SLLP thanks Ards and North Down Borough Council, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, the NI Fish Producers’ Organisation, Sea Source, SeaFish and Food NI and the many industry consultees who contributed.
Lynn Gilmore, of Seafish said, “It’s fantastic to see the local seafood industry getting a steer on marketing more of their product locally, especially during Seafood Week”.
Seafood Week http://www.fishisthedish.co.uk/seafoodweek is a UK wide initiative from Seafish to get more people, to eat more seafood, more often. It runs from 10-16 October 2015.
A DARD spokesman said: “The SLLP’s Seafood Report is both welcome and timely as it is being launched during UK Seafood Week and in advance of NI’s Year of Food and Drink. DARD is delighted to be able to support the delivery of this Fisheries Local Action Group project. “
Welcoming the SLLP’s Report, Michele Shirlow of FoodNI commented: ‘Fish is something that visitors to the region seek out. Clearly the fishing industry has many strengths in terms of supply of seafood, especially shellfish, and Year of Food and Drink 2016 provides a great opportunity to link our best chefs with the finest local produce. We look forward to developing seafood trails and seeing more local fish on our menus’
It is hoped that the many organisations involved in developing Food Tourism and the local food industry will use the Report in developing their plans.