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After a two-year hiatus, (due to the pandemic), the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association,(FIFCA) were delighted to be able to attend the 2022 Global Seafood Expo staged in Barcelona. Having previously taken place in Brussels, this was the first time the event was to be held in the beautiful Mediterranean city.
The event this year was the culmination of a journey that began nearly 3 years ago, (when it was decided that we would attend the 2019 show) and getting there this year wasn’t without its challenges right up to the last minute. When it was announced that the 2019 Brussels show had to be cancelled, the decision was made to have our stand put into storage, so that it would be readily available for when the show would get up and running again. In that time, a decision was made to re-locate the show to Barcelona and this meant that as we were taking up a slightly larger floor space, some last-minute technical modifications were required once the stand came out of storage.
Then the realisation of the UK’s decision to leave the EU played its part because as the UK stand-design team and builders were based in the UK, they all now required visa’s to be able to work in Spain.
Just when we thought we had dotted all the I’s and crossed the T’s and good to go, P&O laid of 800 members of their staff, which meant that there was the real potential after all the work that had already gone into preparing for the event of the stand not making the Channel crossing at all. After some frantic last-minute e-mails between the Falklands and the UK, FIFCA were assured that either by hook or by crook, the stand would be there and the show would go on, and so it did.
The annual 3-day event is the world’s largest seafood expo, with exhibitors and buyers attending from all over the globe, involved in every imaginable aspect of the fishing industry from processing plants,(vessel and land borne), net technologies to vessel design and of course the species themselves. The event is held in a huge exhibition arena comprising of 7 large halls that cover 200,000 sq.m.
FIFCA Executive Secretary said of the show, that it provided an invaluable platform not just to promote the Falkland Island Fishing Industry to new and old buyers on a world stage, but also to promote the Falkland Islands as a whole. He said that the Falklands stand had plenty of interest, particularly on the second day with people from all over the world taking a keen interest in our quality produce and the Islands themselves.
He added that whilst he really enjoyed meeting and greeting everyone, establishing new contacts, refreshing others and generally getting our message out there, that perhaps one of the most poignant conversations he had was with a couple of ladies from Ukraine who had to flea Kyiv in order to be able to attend the show. James and Joseph,(from Polar Seafish), listened to their heart-breaking stories, after which they were told that whilst we couldn’t relate to the scale of the violence their nation was being subjected to, the Falklands could relate to how it felt to be invaded by an aggressive neighbour. James said that Ukraine had the full support and thoughts of the Falkland Islands and that numerous fund-raising events had taken place in order to provide at least some assistance. They were also told that there was a Ukrainian flag flying at our own Government House, a symbolic gesture that resonated well with them.
FIFCA and the Falkland Islands were represented by a large cross section of the sector and for 2022, the Director of Natural Resources, Dr Andrea Clausen, also attended. Dr Clausen used the event to support the Falklands fishing companies and was available for meetings throughout the event. Andrea said that “attending the Expo as an FIG representative was a great opportunity to discuss ITQB and wider fishing matters as needed supporting our local companies in their discussion with their overseas partners. She was also able to discuss the Illex fishery with industry operators who had travelled to Barcelona from Asia.”
Cheryl Roberts FIFCA Chair said it was an excellent opportunity catch up with partners as well as known clients and new ones. The Brexit issue is always foremost in the minds of Industry members, given the tariffs that are now applied to our products imported into Europe. Therefore it was good to speak with companies that are looking to import directly into UK from FI and hence avoiding tariffs. FIFCA continue to work with FIGO,FIG officials and Spanish authorities in the hope of eventually removing the tariffs into the future through the European Union.
We are now looking forward to the implementation of ITQ B for 2023 and will ensure the best PR for our members moving forward. The world is reopening from the pandemic and it is a perfect opportunity to ensure our presence at such Global Seafood Exhibitions putting the Falklands firmly onto the world seafood map.
James was fortunate to meet with Marla Karvonides, the head of Diversified Communications with overall responsibility of putting the Expo on and he asked her what she felt was the uptake of exhibiting stands at the show, (given that this was the first show since 2019). Thinking that it would be somewhere between 60-70%, he was very surprised to learn that the actual uptake was a massive 98%. Marla told James that had Russia not have been dis-invited and had China attended, (they chose not to, due to the pandemic), that the 2022 show would have been by far the largest seafood expo ever staged. She added that this was an obvious and clear sign, that despite the pandemic, and lingering concerns that there was a lot of global confidence in the sector and hoped that the show would go from strength to strength in the new, permanent home of Barcelona.
The show was hailed as a great and meaningful success to all who attended and attention will soon turn to the next Expo where James has some ambitious ideas on how to further promote the industry and the Islands. Watch this space!!
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