The Welsh Aquaculture Producers' Association (WAPA) has been led by the Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research (CSAR) at Swansea University, in liaison with industry representatives and with the support of the Welsh Assembly Government, as a recommendation from the recently published Fisheries Strategy for Wales.
Launching the Welsh Aquaculture Producers' Association.(l-r) aquaculture consultant Dr David Fletcher, Phil Gatland of Selonda UK, Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, Director of CSAR at Swansea University Dr Robin Shields, and James Wilson of Deep Dock.
The Association will represent members' interests locally, nationally and internationally, ensuring that the aquaculture sector plays a full part in implementing strategies for the sustainable development of fisheries and high quality food production in Wales and beyond. It will also provide direct practical support to members, in particular with regulatory and licensing issues, the provision of technical information and advice, trade representation, and assistance with marketing.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector worldwide and is making a growing contribution to the Welsh economy, thanks to the innovation, expertise and commitment of local businesses rearing fish, shellfish, and other valuable aquatic creatures.
The Fisheries Strategy for Wales is in a consultation period and when agreed will set out combined aims and objectives for both its capture fishery and aquaculture sectors. The Welsh fisheries sector is valued at approximately £200 million and employs around 3,000 people.
Dr Robin Shields, Director of CSAR at Swansea University, said that Wales was a leading innovator in the aquaculture industry and there were many opportunities for WAPA to help secure Welsh businesses, improve their performance and to attract new investments.
"There are considerable economic, environmental and societal gains to be made by constituting and effectively managing a new aquaculture lead body for Wales," he added.
Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, who officially launched WAPA at Port Penrhyn, said the Welsh Fisheries Strategy stressed the importance of co-operation within the industry. He said a single representative body for aquaculture will be valuable in helping to make this happen.
"Marketing and trade advice is essential for the industry to capitalise on the rising demand and I am delighted that this assistance will be on offer to members," he said.