Fish processing plant could get stimulus funding

A NEW processing plant could be built in the Island to enable a higher proportion of the local catch to be sold in Jersey, the Economic Development Minister has said.

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30876548)
Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30876548)

Senator Lyndon Farnham said that he hopes to progress discussions with the fishing industry to process and package fish. He added that this could be done in partnership between the private sector and government.

Currently there is very little local fish and shellfish sold in Island supermarkets, an issue that has been highlighted following the ongoing post-Brexit dispute over fishing rights, and Senator Farnham said he wanted to help tackle the issue.

‘As things stand, the majority of fish that we consume in Jersey is imported, while the majority of fish that’s caught locally is exported,’ he said. ‘Part of that is due to retailers requiring modern processing facilities, and I would be keen to explore working with the private sector to see if there are opportunities to enable more local seafood to be sold to the retail and hospitality sectors.

‘Ultimately [this facility] would best be operated by the private sector, but potentially there could be some funding from the fiscal stimulus initiative or some other investment by the government to help get it going.’

The question of the availability of locally caught fish to supermarket shoppers resurfaced earlier this month. The Channel Islands Co-operative Society said local fish was sold from the fish counters from both its Grand Marché stores, while Waitrose confirmed that no local fish featured at its three shops.

SandpiperCI, which operates retail franchises in Jersey under the M&S, Morrisons Daily, Checkers Xpress and Iceland brands, confirmed this week that the stores currently sold ‘very little’ locally caught seafood.

‘We have sold local fish from time to time over the years but sell very little now,’ a SandpiperCI spokesman said. ‘The main reason is because we do not have any specialist fish counters, so would require local fish to be pre-packed.

‘We were in discussions with a local supplier before Covid-19 struck to explore ways of getting locally caught fish into our stores and plan to reopen those discussions,’ the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, Christian Gott, executive chef for Liberation Group, said the company used a mix of local wholesalers and individual suppliers from both Jersey and Guernsey.

‘When we buy fish and seafood, and indeed any foodstuff, we have to comply with current food safety legislation, which limits what and who we can choose to buy from,’ he said. ‘We have locally caught crab and lobster on our menus and include locally caught fish on our specials boards – this is very popular with customers.’

Mr Gott said Liberation was currently finalising its summer specials and planned to include more local crab, lobster, and fish dishes, and Jersey sourced scallops.

Nigel Godfrey, operations director for Randalls, said: ‘We endeavour to use local provenance when it is in season and available generally.

‘Our menus will change seasonally, and we often have fish and shellfish delivered to our “back door” by local fishermen.’

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