Seafood industry body Seafish is facing a strategic overhaul that could result in the first reduction in levy rates for almost 15 years.
The four UK administrations have written to Seafish - a non-departmental public body, funded by levy - proposing a new structure and calling for a full review of levy rates this year.
The proposals come after Seafish carried out industry consultations over its future last year. In their responses, the administrations said Seafish should continue to be funded by statutory levy, but suggested a full consultation on levy rates was needed.
Operations director Jon Harman said the body would also change its approach to budgeting, with budgets built around programmes rather than the other way around. “That might even lead to a reduction in levy,” he said.
Seafish’s last major levy review was in 1999. It has undertaken internal reviews since but has opted not to make any changes to levy arrangements to date.
Other key changes will include a new board. The current board will retire from 31 March, and the new board will consist of four independent members not directly related to the seafood industry, and five industry members. Instead of being recruited directly, board members will be appointed in line with ministerial appointment guidelines, and will be remunerated by Defra.
Beneath the board, there will be three panels, each with eight to 10 members, half from industry organisations. The domestic and export panel will be responsible for the UK fishing fleet, its environmental impact and training. The supply chain panel will look at illegal fishing, food safety and trade agreements. And the import and processing panel will cover the UK supply chain through to the consumer, as well as reputation management.