University conference in support of Hastings’ fishermen and tourism

THE University of Brighton is hosting an international conference in Hastings aimed at linking business sectors to benefit local communities.

The two-day conference called Food, Fisheries and Tourism: New Opportunities for Sustainable Development will look for ways the food, inshore fishery and tourism sectors can work together.

The university has been working with the Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society and the Fisheries Local Action Group to understand links between the fleet, the coastal economy, cultural regeneration, responsible tourism, fisher-led education, marine conservation planning and the local sense of identity.

A spokesman for the University of Brighton said: “Given the central role of Hastings and the fleet and their engagement with the project, Hastings was selected as the perfect place to host the conference and also showcase the growing tourism offer in the town.”

The conference, in the newly-refurbished St Mary in the Castle arts and culture centre in Pelham Crescent, is being held on June 23 and June 24 and organisers hope guests will arrive the weekend before, on June 21 and June 22, to visit the Hastings Midsummer Fish Fest on the Stade Open Space for what the spokesman described as ‘delicious locally caught fish, live music, activities and refreshments’.

The conference will bring together farmers, fishers, tourism professionals, policy makers and educationalists from the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands to share their ideas and experiences.

There will be a guided tour of the working fishing beach in Hastings, a fishmongery session, chef demonstrations, as well as a series of talks ranging from the role of regional branding in stimulating entrepreneurship and innovation to producer and fisher-led community regeneration.

There will also be a photo exhibition in Stade Hall which is running from June 20 to June 29, and will be showing work by photojournalist Vince Bevan and local photographer John Cole on the importance of inshore fishing for coastal communities.