Grimsby merchants "can face future with confidence" –

Grimsby merchants “can face future with confidence” Published:  14 November, 2011

Steve Norton

THE Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association can look forward to the next 100 years with confidence, its chief executive Steve Norton told fishing industry leaders and senior politicians at the weekend.

Steve was speaking at a special dinner at the Grimsby Institute to mark the association’s centenary this year. The menu consisted mainly of seafood dishes created by the institute’s catering section.

Among the guests were Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell and Edward Leigh, MP for the neighbouring constituency of Gainsborough and a former chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Both MPs are strongly in favour of returning UK fishing grounds to UK control.

Steve Norton said: “Well, we made it – 100 years – what an achievement for any organisation let alone a trade association representing fish merchants, or as we say now, seafood processors. The last 100 hundred years have been a very turbulent and volatile period in history. The association has seen many highs and lows and has continued through times of great change and challenge.

 “There have been two world wars, the distribution problems which arose following the closure of rail links on which our members’ were reliant in the Sixties, rampant inflation in the 1970s, the loss of traditional distant water grounds which arose for the entire industry following the UK’s membership of the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy. We have weathered those changes well.”

 Steve said he joined the FMA in 2001 and there have been many challenges during since then with no doubt more to come.  “However, we are here to celebrate the success and remember those who went before and served the industry with great diligence and dignity and many became household names. One of those was, of course, the Ross Family; sadly John Ross died in May this year and his son, David, unfortunately could not be here this evening but sends his best wishes.”

Steve said he believed the industry had a strong future: “The association has some very good members who are forward thinking, companies that are dynamic investing in new premises.  I hope, with all the various changes that are taking place, i.e. market modernisation, seafood village, etc. that we will see more people prepared to come into our interesting and exciting industry.”

Martyn Boyers, chief executive of Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises, the company which runs the fish market, replying for the  guests, said he felt especially privileged to having being a former chairman and chief executive of the FMA.

The centenary book, published by Wyvex Media which also owns,  came out this year to commemorate 100 years and he described it as a  great piece of history which he was delighted to have been involved with. Martyn said the modernisation of the fish market (currently being carried out) marked another chapter in the history of the FMA which was still thriving.

He described the merchants as the heartbeat of the Grimsby market auction. He added: “We also recognise the importance of moving our businesses forward. It is sometimes a difficult balancing act to modernise for the future at the expense of the past. However, all members of the FMA have been supportive of the modernisation scheme. The Grimsby fishing industry has some great entrepreneurial skills.”