A 5-point plan to protect Scotland’s pelagic fishing sector from the effects of the Russia trade embargo was agreed at a meeting in Edinburgh today.
Chairing the meeting of key industry representatives, Scotland’s Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead agreed to work with the industry to tackle the issue on the following 5 fronts:
• Targeting of new and emerging overseas markets.
• Growing domestic sales with Scottish and UK retailers.
• Increasing domestic demand by consumers.
• Working with the UK Government to maximise levers that may be available such as export insurance.
• Working with the EU to maximise levers that may be available such as banking of quotas.
Further work to flesh out the themes and explore favoured options will be taken forward by a working group of key industry representatives, industry bodies and the Scottish Government.
Commenting immediately after the meeting, Mr Lochhead said:
“Today’s meeting was extremely constructive with everyone keen to work together to quickly identify possible solutions to the challenge the Russia trade embargo has given to the industry.
“This is a successful sector, used to adapting to changes in market conditions and with great experience exporting to a wide range of markets.
“Processors today confirmed that up to 20% of the mackerel processed in Scotland is exported directly to Russia, with work still on-going to identify the knock-on effect of indirect exports through countries such as Lithuania and the Baltic States. There will also be an issue of displacement, as other countries also affected by the ban, look to find alternative markets for their fish and we are working to calculate what that impact will be.
“It is clear that there is no one solution to this complex situation, but with everyone working together and focussing on the 5 key areas we have identified today, we will hopefully be able to take various steps to protect both the pelagic catching and processing sectors from any significant impact.”
Ian Gatt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said:
“I welcome today's meeting as an opportunity to discuss the impact of the Russian action on the pelagic sector and identify joint actions which could be taken by industry and government working together to mitigate the situation and provide solutions."
Ian McFadden, Chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association, said:
“We had a constructive meeting today which gave an opportunity for the processing and catching sectors to come together with government and work jointly to gauge the impact of the Russian import ban and scope possible solutions.
“We now look forward to working with these partners to mitigate the impact of the Russian action."
Notes to editors
Mr Lochhead will meet with representatives from other areas of the food industry affected by the trade embargo next week.