Scheme to boost fishing industry after Brexit gathers pace
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A six-figure bid for funding to safeguard the future of Suffolk's fishing industry after Brexit has been lodged, as council bosses eye a 'major opportunity' to boost business.
The Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries (REAF) group was established following the Brexit referendum to investigate the potential impacts and growth of the fishing industry in the region.
Waveney District Council (WDC) has joined with Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Associated British Ports for the project.
The partnership has now lodged a bid for £159,500 from the European Maritime Fisheries Fund to carry out a feasibility study and action plan.
A report to Waveney's cabinet said: 'The ultimate aim of the group is to re-establish Lowestoft as a major regional fishing hub in the context of a significantly growing domestic fishing sector.'
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It added: 'The proposal and the formation of REAF is seen as highly innovative with Lowestoft taking a national lead on this issue on behalf of the region.
'The proposed activity is also high profile for WDC as it is now seen as the most proactive local authority within the country on this issue with no other area having progressed work in this area to the extent we have.'
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A conference in March with industry insiders gathered positive feedback over the potential for the area.
The study will be split into phases, and will assess the region's fishing fleet, what training is available, supply chain, port infrastructure and measures to be developed to support the industry further, among other areas.
The report continued: 'The objective of the research is to explore how the economic and social benefits of the fishing industry can be captured and optimised locally and regionally.'
It added that the scheme so far has received 'widespread and growing support'.
An announcement on whether the funding bid has been successful is expected sometime this month. The bid will fund 75 per cent of the research project, with the remaining 25pc set to be covered through applications for national funding streams.
A spokesman from Waveney District Council was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.