Supporting a sustainable Solway seafood industry
Dumfries and Galloway’s seafood industry was the focus of a Solway Firth Partnership project called Out of the Blue (now finished) which was enabled by support from the European Fisheries Fund awarded by the Dumfries and Galloway Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Locally, sea fisheries make a significant contribution to the character and economic wellbeing of coastal towns and villages. Kirkcudbright was ranked the tenth most major port in the UK for quantity of landings in 2012 with shellfish valued at £3.5 million. Remote villages with limited employment opportunities including Isle of Whithorn, Port William and Drummore are the base for creel fishermen whose activity reflects the long relationship between people and the sea. The majority of landings in Dumfries and Galloway are processed locally, as well as shellfish transported into the region, which provides jobs along the coast. Much shellfish is exported from the region to supply demand in UK cities and the European market.
The fishing industry faces considerable pressure from wider issues including increased competition for use of the sea. While the sector continues to play an important part in the local economy and supports a broad range of businesses both directly and indirectly, there is a need to look to the future by exploring opportunities for diversification and added value. There is also an opportunity to develop best practice in terms of sustainability to support the long term future of the industry. High quality niche market heritage fisheries trading premium products such as wild Solway salmon provide opportunities to capitalise on the provenance of such fish. Similarly, there are marketing opportunities for other local fisheries based on links between the quality of the environment, the care applied to management of the fishery and the commercial product.
The Out of the Blue project provided support to build on opportunities for economic development including current work on the cockle fishery. The project also supported sustainability initiatives by working in partnership with local fishermen, scientists and government. An important element of the project was raising awareness of the part that fishing plays in the culture and heritage of the region and new promotional and interpretive material has been completed. We also worked to build closer connections between the local area and national initiatives including those led by Seafood Scotland and Seafish.
The following publications are an outcome of the Out of the Blue project and can be downloaded for free: