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POLL: Should Cromer crab be a protected brand?

Dressing a Cromer crab. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Dressing a Cromer crab. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012

A fisheries action group in north Norfolk is urging people in the industry to help with the first ever bid to protect Cromer crab’s iconic name.

What’s in a name?

A number of food and drink products in the UK have been granted protected status under European Union law, legislation designed to protect regional foods. It came into force in 1992. Some examples include Newcastle Brown Ale, Champagne, Cornish Pasty, Traditional Cumberland Sausage, Melton Mowbray pork pie, Stilton, Cornish Clotted Cream, Scottish Farmed Salmon, Gloucestershire Old Spots and Jersey Royal potatoes.

A move to protect the name of the iconic Cromer crab is being launched - but only if it gets the backing of the time-honoured local fishing industry.

A series of consultation meetings take place next week seeking the views of fishermen and processors about whether to try to give the brand the same protection as the Cornish pasty, Melton Mowray pork pie, Stilton cheese and champagne.

It would mean only genuine local Cromer crab could carry the name.

But one of the early big questions is to establish what exactly is a Cromer crab.

And fishermen have already flagged up concerns that the paperwork that goes with the exercise could be more trouble than it is worth.

The North Norfolk Fisheries Local Action Group (Flag) is behind the series of consultation events for people from the fishing and processing industries including sessions at Sheringham’s Dunstable Arms on Tuesday from 5-8pm, Cromer’s Merchants Place on Wednesday from 6-9pm - carnival evening - and Mundesley Haig Club on Thursday from 7-10pm.

Officials will provide facts, the pros and cons of branding and seek votes which will decide if the move is progressed.

People can also get voting slips from their local fishing association secretary.

The brand initiative is part of a larger £2m project to help sustain the local fishery’s future through European Union funding. The overall scheme is also promoting projects such as fishery-related visitor centre, training school, and marketing.

The move comes soon after the town’s Cromer Crab Factory ceased production, and is now awaiting final decommissioning and sale. But backers of the brand bid say the two are not related.

Flag group chairman John Williams said: “We need to find out what all the fishermen and related people feel about it and about what it means.”

There would be two sides to the coin but benefits of the process would include publicity for the product, added value and accreditation of the fishing industry in Norfolk.

He was fearful however that it would “add another layer of bureaucracy” and ultimately mean more work for local fishermen.

“We will take feedback from the consultation a decide whether or not to go ahead with it.

“It’s achievable but we are trying to establish whether it is desirable.”

Lifelong crab fisherman and North Norfolk District Council cabinet member John Lee feared that the bid may cause more paperwork. The council was also in talks with crab factory owners Youngs over the Cromer Crab brand name it used.

“I’m not sure if we will gain anything from EU protective status. If we are going to push for it then it has to bring benefits with it.”

For more information about the consultations visit the website at www.northnorfolkflag.org or telephone 01263 510709.

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