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15th International Seafood Conference finds industry plying unsettled waters.

Held during one of the most uncertain years the fish business has charted, the 15th International Seafood Conference (ISC) attracted 223 attendees from 30 countries. Lisbon, Portugal, was the venue for the four-day event, which brought together industry leaders from 134 companies in November.

Attendance was down, largely due to the worldwide recession and competition from the myriad of other seafood conferences and exhibitions which have sprung up in recent years. Considering this, the numbers are quite impressive and point up the need for an international gathering of people representing many parts of the industry rather than just one sector.

With a temperate climate and excellent facilities, Lisbon proved to be a perfect location for the conference. In an opening speech given by Dr. Eurico Pimenta de Brito, director general of Portuguese Fisheries, it was explained that at 60kg., Portugal boasts Europe's highest per capita consumption of seafood. On the production side, the fishery's annual catch is in the range of 330,000 metric tons. Three days of speeches and panel discussions covering a range of fish and shellfish topics followed the review of seafood in Portugal.

The annual state of the industry address was given by Kress Muenzmay, president of General Mills International Restaurants, which runs the Red Lobster chain among others. Stressing the movement away from fried to non-fried seafood, he urged processors to take advantage of opportunities the changing market holds.

An entire day was devoted to a groundfish symposium, featuring a panel discussion and commentary on Russian groundfish resources from US and European perspectives. Ron Jensen, president and CEO of Arctic Alaska Fisheries Corp., gave the North American view while Poul Torring, assistant managing director of Foodmark A/S in Denmark, provided the European slant.

Jensen's speech centered on the problems of doing business and operating vessels in Russian waters - a commercial venture that his company has been involved with for many years. While citing the vast stocks found on the Russian side of the Bering Sea, he warned of future problems if the resource is not martaged properly

Stating that the Barents Sea held the "only healthy cod stock in the North Atlantic," Torring mentioned that the 1992 catch would be about 400,000 metric tons. Divided equally between Russia and Norway, the yield is expected to reach 700,000 to 800,000 tons by 1998.

These, and many of the other speeches, are covered in detail in this issue of Quick Frozen Foods International.

Seafood trade events nowadays seem to fall into two categories: exhibitions where business is actually transacted and contacts are made, and conferences where talks are given and much is discussed. The International Seafood Conference has found a niche in that it combines both of these qualities. Informative talks - some of which are, frankly, much better than others - are presented and ample time is set aside to conduct business in a relaxed, casual setting. For those doubting the value of the latter aspect, just ask the processor who contracted to sell two container loads of shrimp during a hotel lobby meeting, or talk to the supplier who at the opening reception finally made personal contact with a processor he'd been trying to meet.

ISC organizer Robert Erkins is continually fine-tuning the event to meet the demands of an everchanging seafood industry. While a variety of locations were being considered, no final decision on dates or place for the next conference had been made at press time.

Meanwhile, complete proceedings from the 1992 ISC may be obtained by contacting the organizer at PO. Box 108, Bliss, Idaho 83314 USA, fax: 208-352-4271.
COPYRIGHT 1993 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:November 1992 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal
Author:Williams, Andrew
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:599
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