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Humber and Icelandic seafood clusters unite for trade and innovation

A GROUND-breaking collaboration has been forged between Grimsby’s seafood cluster and its Icelandic counterpart, just a month after Reykjavik’s UK ambassador called for free trade post-Brexit between the UK and its vital supply partner. 

Humber and Icelandic seafood clusters unite for trade and innovation

Seafood Grimsby & Humber and The Iceland Ocean Cluster have signed Memorandum of Understanding to develop a joint network to share knowledge and boost the use of fish, establishing dialogue on trade relations. 

It began over the weekend, as Simon Dwyer, representing the town’s primary industry, addressed the annual Icelandic Seafood Conference on the thorny subject of leaving the EU.

Attending the signing of the MoU were Berta Danielsdottir, chief executive of Icelandic Ocean Cluster and Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, as well as the UK’s Ambassador to Iceland, Michael Nevin.

Mr Nevin said: “We welcome this initiative from both parties. There is a strong historical and current trading relationship between Iceland and Grimsby and Humber. The MoU signing is evidence of a desire to further strengthen that relationship in advance of the UK leaving the EU.” 

His Icelandic counterpart, Thordur Aegir Oskarsson, was guest of honour at the opening reception of Humber Seafood Summit last month, and told of the strong desire harboured by the North Atlantic nation to build even better links as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Mr Thordarson said: “I welcome the co-operation of these important clusters related to fisheries and trade. The co-operation between the British and Icelanders is very good and is important to promote it further. The focus of this collaboration on innovation and start-ups is an interesting opportunity for both nations.”

The Iceland Ocean Cluster is a marine business incubator located in Reykjavik that builds and supports a network of entrepreneurs in the marine science industries to facilitate the creation of new business, ideas, and research that will ultimately add value to the industry. More than 10 start-ups have been created in the incubator  over the past five years. These start-ups are creating valuable products for the high value health care, skin care and nutraceutical markets.

Thor Sigfusson, founder of Iceland Ocean Cluster, added: “Our mission is to create value by connecting together entrepreneurs, businesses and knowledge in the marine industries. Therefore, we’re delighted to see Seafood Grimsby & Humber join our global network that stretches into Norway and eastern United States.”

The organisation already has a similar agreement with Bedford Massachusetts, an area Grimsby has also signed an MoU with when it comes to offshore wind development, having been united in the spring by Team Humber Marine Alliance. 

Mr Dwyer said: “This is a new, exciting and significant step for our organisation. Seeing the Iceland Ocean Cluster vision and set-up in Reykjavik is inspiring. Their outreach into other seafood clusters complements Grimsby & the Humber, especially, Bedford, Massachusetts, where the Humber already has links with its offshore wind sector. 

“We’re looking forward to this collaboration particularly when it comes to partnering on developing trade post-Brexit.”

He told how Seafood Grimsby & Humber is a representative group established by Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association to focus on the competitiveness of a cluster that boasts 70 processing facilities, 5,000 employees and a further 10,000-plus jobs in the wider supply chain.

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