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Court Ruling Reinstates Seafish's Power

UK - Following a recent court ruling, Seafish has been reinstated with the power to collect levies on imported sea fish and sea fish products. The ruling was supported by DEFRA and many other seafood companies.

Seafish is the body which supports the UK’s seafood industry.

Five Supreme Court judges unanimously overturned an earlier Court of Appeal ruling that Seafish could not lawfully collect levy on imports following a legal challenge by a group of levy payers.

The full judgment can be seen at www.supremecourt.gov.uk

Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and DARDNI will continue to work closely with Seafish and the industry on how the organisation can best move forward.

The Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish) is a UK levy-funded Non-Departmental Public Body established by the Fisheries Act 1981. For more information go to www.seafish.org.

In 2009 a group of companies which import fish brought a case before the High Court challenging the right of Seafish to collect a levy on imported products.

Although the High Court found in favour of Seafish, the judgment was overturned by the Court of Appeal in March 2010. Defra successfully applied for leave to appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court heard the case on 24-25 March and has now handed down its judgement in favour of Defra.

Dr Paul Williams, Chief Executive of Seafish, commented on their instillation saying, “We are delighted with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The fact that the highest court in the UK has confirmed our powers to raise a levy on imported sea fish and sea fish products means we can now move forward and carry out our planned activities."

"The ruling will have a positive impact on Seafish and the entire seafood industry."

“The earlier Court of Appeal decision, in March 2010, resulted in a significant loss of income to Seafish, which impacted on projects and services in all areas of our organisation – distracting us from our important work."

“We are now very pleased to be able to return with force to our job - adding value to the seafood industry throughout the supply chain,” Mr Williams concluded.

Seafood giant, Young's also commented on the reinstatement of Seafish.

Leendert den Hollander, Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood Limited, said, “Now there is clarity on the future of Seafish, we can move on and focus on taking fish industry representation to the next level."

"The industry needs a collective voice on issues where we have a common interest and a united view. Industry representation must have a clear vision and action plan, with clear deliverables, focussed on moving the industry forward."

"A consumer facing voice, that can represent the industry and help to communicate the benefits of eating fish twice a week, is important for the future of the processing sector."

"We play an active role in Seafish, we see the need for these activities to continue at an industry level and we will play our part in achieving this."

"To tackle the big issues – from fish sustainability to food security – there has to be an open dialogue between catchers, processors, importers, distributors, Government, scientists and other stakeholders and we hope that this will continue,” Mr Hollander concluded.

Further Reading

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the Fish Site Editor

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