A long-term strategy to combat the increasing problem of encouraging new recruits into the fishing industry is to be developed over the coming year with the initial stages being put into action by summer 2002.

The announcement of the strategy follows a meeting of the Seafish Recruitment Task Force held in Edinburgh last week. Established by the Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish) the task force includes members from the main UK fishing federations and was formed to review recruitment issues for the fishing sector against the current background of skills shortages for all industries.

The proposed strategy will focus on promoting the fishing industry as a viable and positive career option. It will consider the various methods of funding available to support new recruits and will define the roles to be played by Seafish, the network of locally run Group Training Associations (GTAs) and the Federations. Building on the existing training structure, it will establish a flexible system which will match recruits, through direct contacts with skippers, with real jobs.
The strategy will also consider how career advice on the industry is presented to young people and will develop a package for teachers and career advisors to present progressive employment opportunities in fishing to school leavers.

Seafish Training & Standards Director, Ken Waind, said: “The task force recognises that the career marketplace is very competitive and that we need to step up our efforts to encourage new recruits if we are to remain a sustainable industry.

“Industry will have an active role to play in the implementation of this strategy which will include a major PR campaign to turn around the perception that the industry is negative, backward looking.

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“In the short term we have identifed a number of areas which can be progressed. This includes the re-launch of Modern Apprenticeship (MA) scheme and the production of a promotional leaflet explaining the MA scheme for vessel owners and skippers.”

The task force members are Ken Waind and Simon Potten of Seafish, Mike Park and George MacRae of the Scottish Fishermen#;s Federation, Nathan de Rozarieux and Paul Trebilcock of the National Federation of Fishermen#;s Organisations, and Tom Bryan Brown of the Northern Ireland Fishermen#;s Federation.