HRH The Princess Royal, Court Member and past Prime Warden of the Fishmongers’ Company, visited Plymouth on Monday 25th October to learn more about its nationally-important seafood industry and its pioneering efforts to protect and enhance the marine environment.
The visit included a tour of the city’s Fish Market to understand the role it plays in supporting hundreds of livelihoods and supplying businesses across the South West and beyond.
The Princess Royal was also taken by boat across Plymouth Sound, home to the UK’s first National Marine Park, which the Company was fundamental in founding, where she learned about research into the environmental impacts of the shellfish industry and the habitat preferences of commercially important fish species.
The visit on Monday was arranged by the Fishmongers’ Company in conjunction with the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Plymouth City Council, the University of Plymouth, Plymouth Trawler Agents and Sutton Harbour Group.
During the day, The Princess Royal toured the Fish Market managed by Plymouth Trawler Agents where she met fishers, processors, stallholders and merchants. She also heard about the market’s electronic auction system, and took part in a mock auction to see how each morning’s catch is not only landed but also sold.
The Princess Royal also met officials from Devon-based firm Tecmarine and learned about its efforts, supported by the Fishmongers’ Company, to use remote electronic monitoring as part of Blue Marine’s SAFEGEAR project, which helps to tackle issues caused by lost fishing equipment, also known as ghost gear.
In the afternoon, she visited the University’s Marine Station where she heard about its world-leading marine research and pioneering industry partnerships.
She then joined researchers and students on board RV Falcon Spirit and was told about ongoing work to assess the impact of the UK’s largest mussel farm, owned by Offshore Shellfish Ltd, on the Lyme Bay Marine Protected Area. This research has been supported by the Company’s Fisheries Targeted Academic Sponsorship Programme.
Researchers also explained how cutting edge underwater video and acoustic technology is being used to monitor the National Marine Park and fish habitats right across the English Channel.
Andrew Wallace, Fisheries Director of The Fishmongers’ Company, said: “It was a pleasure to join HRH The Princess Royal, in Plymouth to learn more about the valuable contributions the local fishing fleet and seafood trade make to the region’s economy and surrounding communities. This was followed by a fascinating afternoon exploring the University of Plymouth’s marine research which, supported by the Company, is improving our understanding of how local mussel farms are boosting the health of our marine ecosystems.”