A NEW feature highlighting the importance of sustainability is coming to the Dorset Seafood Festival.

Weymouth's popular seafood festival is set to return on the second weekend of September after a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the first time, the festival will feature a series of speakers, videos and question and answer sessions from the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), a marine conservation charity working to promote protected areas and sustainable fisheries.

The charity has a project at Lyme Bay, working to prove that sustainable fishing can co-exist with conservation, and experts from the Lyme Bay Reserve will be attending the seafood festival to share some of their knowledge with visitors.

Sam Fanshawe, UK marine projects manager at BLUE, said: "BLUE has been a long-standing partner of the Dorset Seafood Festival and is delighted to play a key part in this year's event.

"The BLUE sessions will showcase many of the successes and partners from the Lyme Bay Reserve project, including the University of Plymouth, Dorset Coast Forum, and the fishermen who have played a vital part in making Lyme Bay a flagship model for the long-term sustainable future of our seas."

As reported, visitors will have to pay to attend the festival for the first time, in a move organisers say will ensure visitor numbers can be controlled in a bid to keep everyone safe, prompting a backlash from local businesses who have predicted the entry fee will result in the event being a flop.

The location has also been moved from Weymouth Harbour to the Weymouth peninsula.

A spokesman for the festival said: "Ticketing the festival is the only way to ensure visitor numbers can be safely controlled.

"The move also means increased costs, and with a year’s lost income due to the postponement of the 2020 festival, there is no other way the event could go ahead. In terms of value for money, we have new features added to our already popular event.

"With live music, fabulous street food, Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine, and panoramic views of Weymouth's glorious bay and the Jurassic Coast, the festival is one of the most celebrated weekends in Weymouth's event calendar."

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.dorsetseafood.co.uk/