HRH The Princess Royal has visited Plymouth 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, 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. HRH 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 to tackle issues caused by lost fishing equipment, also known as ghost gear.
In the afternoon, The Princess Royal visited the University’s Marine Station where she heard about its world-leading marine research and pioneering industry partnerships.
HRH then joined researchers and students on board RV Falcon Spirit and was told about ongoing work to assess the environmental impacts of the UK’s largest mussel farm, owned by Offshore Shellfish Ltd and located near the Lyme Bay Marine Protected Area. That work has been supported by the Fishmongers’ Company.
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.
Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, said:
“This was a fantastic opportunity to show HRH The Princess Royal some of our world-leading marine research and innovation, and demonstrate how it is supporting the region’s businesses. Our collaborations with industry and other partners are enhancing our understanding of the marine environment, and enabling us to develop solutions which can benefit all areas of society. Our work with Offshore Shellfish Ltd is a perfect example, and the ecosystem monitoring technologies used in this project will not only benefit the farm’s operations but also support wider understanding and protection of such important areas.”
Andrew Wallace, Fisheries Director of The Fishmongers’ Company, said:
“It was a pleasure to join HRH The Princess Royal, Court Member and past Prime Warden of the Fishmongers’ Company, 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.”
Cllr Nick Kelly, Leader of Plymouth City Council, added:
“The fisheries industry and marine innovation are crucial to Plymouth’s local economy. It was beneficial to learn more about the people, their expertise and the challenges they face to continue to make their living in these specialist roles. Plymouth holds a rich history and world-class expertise in both fishing and marine technology. I am very proud that we were able to show that to HRH The Princess Royal.”
Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Terri Beer said:
“It was an honour to receive HRH The Princess Royal on behalf of the City of Plymouth. I am thrilled that we were able to explore our stunning waterfront and see the innovation in our marine industries.”