Billy Caley of W & K Caley and Sons Seafoods in Peel and the government’s fisheries director Andy Read spent 10 days in the American state of Maine at the invitation of their fisheries directorate.
Mr Caley said their brief was to share the island’s expertise on sustainable fishing by giving formal lectures and talking to fishermen.
‘We explained the progress we had made in the Isle of Man over the past 30 years,’ he said.
‘We had a lot to tell them because they are now going through the problems we did 30 years ago and their jobs are in jeopardy. So they wanted to know how we got back on track.’
Mr Read added they had delivered four lectures in several different parts of Maine, met many members of the industry from officials to fishermen and made some good contacts.
‘I gave some talks on the scientific side and Billy answered questions about processing,’ he said.
He added the trip had been a great opportunity to promote the Isle of Man in an area where fishing is a huge industry with an annual lobster catch of more than 40,000 tonnes across Maine, compared with 30 tonnes in the Isle of Man.
Their most prolific fishermen catch about 2,000kg of lobsters in a single day, he added.
‘It was a chance to fly the flag for the Isle of Man,’ he said.
‘There was a charity auction one night and we supplied a hamper of Manx produce.’
Because the plan was to meet as many of the fishermen as possible, the weekend selected for the trip was, he said, statistically the one with the worst weather, when fewest boats were likely to be out at sea.
And it certainly lived up to expectations.
‘At times the temperature was down to minus 20,’ he said. ‘It certainly was not a jolly, but we did have a warm welcome.
‘The minister authorised the trip on the basis that we learned as much as possible to feed back over here.’
The trip was half funded by the Maine state government and half by the state’s fishermen’s forum.
Mr Read added they were sending some of the island’s scallop samples to America with a view to the export potential.
Now the fishermen of Maine are hoping to arrange for eight representatives to make a reciprocal visit to the Isle of Man, ideally this year before the scallop season ends in November.
Mr Read said the trip had been excellent publicity for the Isle of Man fishing industry.
‘I just wish it could have taken place in July,’ he added.
In January, Manx queenies were voted the best at the Sustainable Seafood Awards 2011. The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture’s fisheries directorate was awarded first place at the UK finals following a presentation at Billingsgate Seafood School, in London.
Billy Caley, who is also director of Isle of Man Seafoods and a member of the Isle of Man Scallop Processors Association, said then: ‘This is further recognition of how far the Isle of Man seafood industry has matured. As processors we have moved beyond accepting minimum landing size products and seek to land only the most mature queenies.
‘By doing this we ensure the younger stock remains on the seabed, repopulating our waters for future years, and consumers receive only the best quality queenies.’
Manx queenies fought off competition from stone bass (Direct Seafoods); sardines entered (Marine Conservation Society); spider crab (Welsh Fisheries Department and South Wales Fisherman’s Association); Pacific cod (Alaskan Seafood) and yellow tail kingfish (Clean Seas).