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Press Release Bristol Partner Meeting

ACRUNET (Atlantic Crab Resource Users Network) Holds Productive Meeting in Bristol

Seafish, the agency which works with the United Kingdom seafood industry to promote good quality, sustainable seafood and is a prominent player in the ACRUNET network, hosted the 7th ACRUNET Partners Meeting in Bristol on the 7th and 8th of October.  Addressing the assembled delegates at the opening session, Marcus Jacklin for Seafish observed “Another major achievement of the project has been the high level of collaboration and cooperation displayed between partners” and went on to point out the value of the network which has developed and progressed its stakeholder-wide role at group level rather than partners following narrower objectives at individual level.  The resultant collaborative platform enables discussions and initiatives to be developed in a very effective and cooperative fashion which could, potentially, be adopted by other regional groups.

Brown crab fishermen from the UK, Ireland and France were well represented at the meeting and, as usual, were able to bring real, hands-on experience to the discussions. The input from the fishing sector is vitally important to the work of ACRUNET; there is considerable over-lap in the crab industry between fishermen, transporters, exporters and the processing sector and these operators are constantly aware of the knock-on effect of change in the various elements of the product chain.

Creating a certifiable transnational standard which could assure consumers regarding the credentials of brown crab was a primary objective of ACRUNET.  Building on the existing national seafood standards* of the partner countries, the meeting was informed that nearly 40 crabbers spread throughout Ireland, the UK and France have been audited to the ACRUNET Brown Crab Standard.  The next step will be to ensure that this hard work is put to good use by promoting this certification in the market place.

 The very interesting and practical work being carried out by the industry analysis team continues to drill deeper into consumer attitudes.  They have also identified a number of issues which could impact negatively on consumer reactions such as media coverage of sustainability and health topics.  There was agreement that industry needs to be equipped to respond in a rational and open manner when such situations arise; the response of industry needs to be consistent and well-informed.  The promotional materials developed by ACRUNET have an important role to play and are already being deployed in France which continues to be the single largest market for brown crab.

The product format is very important but there is considerable variation in what appeals to the consumer from country to country.  ACRUNET has produced a detailed report on the types of presentation and there are plans to follow-up with trials in Spain which has, up to now, been primarily interested in the more basic product such as live or cooked and frozen. Partners have been continuing to look at ways to improve transport, particularly live crab, and continued progress has been made on efficiency measures that will reduce the quantity of water needed for live transport.  There are also on-going studies, again in Spain, on waste utilisation where composting samples have been analysed to ensure a successful implementation of the commercial scale trial.

Developing a workable and acceptable management system for brown crab fisheries, particularly in the UK and Ireland, remains a major challenge for all stakeholders.  In France, where there has been a long-established permit system, it is less of a problem but issues such as latent effort continue to hinder progress elsewhere. Lack of consistent data has been identified as a crucial stumbling-block to headway in this vital area.  ACRUNET science partners have been gathering the relevant data and plan meeting with industry partners in early 2015 to discuss future options.

This is the final year of ACRUNET and many of the objectives of the project are achieved or will be achieved in the near future. It is vital that this information reaches all those stakeholders which can benefit from it.  In the course of its work ACRUNET has also identified other areas which need to be followed up. The partners discussed the future options and concluded that the work started, particularly the development of the network, should be continued. 

The next Partner meeting of ACRUNET will take place in Dublin on 3rd and 4th March 2015.

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