Scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) hosted a conference for coarse and ornamental fish farmers at their Weymouth laboratory recently.

The conference, entitled “Working Together to Control Disease”, was organised to support a government initiative to encourage the development of farmer discussion groups.

·         Stakeholders and trade associations are encouraged to inform themselves about new reforms and changes in legislation that affect their members.

·         The conference aimed to encourage open debate, greater understanding and consensus with coarse and ornamental fish farmers on fish health issues

·         update English and Welsh farmers on recent legislative changes and other issues likely to affect their businesses

·         identify and discuss problems affecting fish farmers

·         provide helpful and informative advice to the industry

·         encourage the further development of the recently formed Coarse Fish Farmers and Traders Association (CFFTA).

Speakers from Cefas, the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) covered such topics as new fish health legislation, emerging fish diseases, the EU’s Water Framework Directive, the role of an aquaculture development officer, codes of practice for fish farmers, and the future development of the new trade association.

Eric Hudson of the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), part of Cefas, said: “Providing the fish farmers with an opportunity to tour the laboratory, learn about the work of Cefas, and ask questions went a long way towards developing greater understanding and closer working with the industry. The fish farmers present voiced their thanks for this opportunity.”

Bernice Brewster, chair of the newly formed Coarse Fish Farmers and Traders Association (CFFTA) thanked Cefas for organising the day and all the advice provided. She said: “In future, the CFFTA hope to be able to speak on behalf of farmers from across the country and to represent them in talks with government agencies on issues affecting their industry.”