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The Irish partners, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Bord Bia, Marine Institute (MI) and Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation Ltd (KFO) participating in the INTERREG Atlantic Area IVb project ACRUNET are conscious that this project is primarily about developing the network of inter-dependent sectors – fishermen, buyers, exporters, processors and retailers – and promoting dialogue between those groups.

To kick-start the process of consultation, BIM hosted a seminar in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin, on 31st January which was very well attended with a spread of brown crab fishermen, buyers and processors from around the coast. Norah Parke, (KFO), began with an overview of the ACRUNET project and how it had evolved over several years. She emphasised the importance of the over-arching network which draws the different jurisdictions and facets of industry stakeholders and consumers together.

There followed a description of the work plan for ACRUNET including development of a European standard which would be based on the existing national standards of Ireland (BIM Responsibly Sourced Seafood (ISO 65)), UK and France, possible management strategies which would assure future stock sustainability and an economic in-depth analysis of the entire industry from vessel to consumer which would dictate future marketing strategy.

Those present felt they had been given a lot of information and suggested that a future meeting would be beneficial after a period of consideration. The group agreed to convene again at Fish EXPO in Galway and met in the Galway Bay Hotel on Saturday 2 March. There was a very good attendance reflecting a representative cross-section of the industry. On this occasion there was a brief review of the ACRUNET project for the benefit of those who had not attended the Dublin seminar and the feedback from the Dublin participants, which had been constructive and valuable, was acknowledged.

The discussion centred around developing standards which needed to be simple but clearly defined, the need to come up with innovative products which would appeal to younger consumers and in those countries which did not previously have a tradition of eating brown crab and all this against a background of good management to ensure sustainable stocks and enhance the reputation of an industry with environmental integrity.

ACRUNET aims to harness the interest and skills displayed at these meetings by engaging with all sectors of industry over the course of the project and beyond. To maintain this progress an industry consultative group, drawn from volunteers present, was set up; this group will continue the
dialogue initiated and ensure ACRUNET remains focused on the real needs of the brown crab industry.

For further information please contact Norah Parke, ACRUNET Network Coordinator, Killybegs Fisherm

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