Scottish salmon farmers concerned over EC’s minimum import price for salmon Published: 21 July, 2008
Scottish independent salmon farmers have warned that the abolition of the EC’s minimum import price for salmon will allow Norway to monopolise the industry in Scotland completely, causing hundreds of jobs losses.
The EC abolished the MIP on Sunday, following sustained pressure from the Norwegian Government and a ruling by the World Trade Organisation that found fault with the way the MIP was imposed on 22 separate counts, although it did not rule that the MIP was illegal. Only the UK and Irish representatives voted to retain the MIP last week, after Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson revealed that the MIP had never had to be used. It was introduced in 2006 following strong lobbying from the UK and Irish Governments and evidence which they claimed showed that Norway had been dumping farmed salmon onto the EU market, at prices below the production cost. Norway has always claimed this was untrue.
Angus MacMillan, the owner of Harris and Uist based West Minch Salmon, said this was bad news for the independent sector in Scotland. “It looks as if we have been abandoned by the Governments in Edinburgh, Westminster and Brussels and they’ve given Norway the opportunity to do as they like within Europe. They will now gain complete control of the salmon farming industry worldwide, so it will become a strategic industry to take the place of oil in their economy, when the oil runs out. What have the two Governments in Edinburgh and Westminster done to protect us?” he said.
He added: “They should have lobbied some of the other 27 members of the EU to support them and to support our industry. It is all very well for Mr Mandelson to say the price hasn’t fallen below the MIP. That simply shows that the MIP worked and gave stability in the market for two years. They should be asking themselves if we are going to see more dumping and we have given them clear evidence that there will be more dumping and that it will happen soon. What will they do about it then? As far as I can see the Scottish Government is negotiating with Norway as partners not as a country that is going to take control of one of the most important Scottish industries.”
Former Marine Harvest chief executive Atle Eide recently claimed the MIP simply protected Scottish and Irish companies from competitive market forces that would make them become more efficient. He suggested that to survive Scottish companies would have to become larger to compete on the world market. Mr MacMillan said: “A lot of people who worked for Marine Harvest in Scotland lost their jobs because of Mr Eide and I don’t think that people should pay too much attention to his expert opinion. I foresee that the small number of independent companies left will be swallowed up by the Norwegian majors and there will be no Scottish industry in a very short time.”
Mr MacMillan produces a substantial proportion of his fish for the organic salmon market. He said that niche market producers had some protection, but that this was not the case for those competing in mainstream production markets. Mr MacMillan said: “I am not making these objections for myself. I am raising these points because of what will happen to the people working for other independents and those working for Norwegian-owned companies operating in Scotland. As the companies get larger, these are the people who will lose their jobs, many of which are found in remote rural areas”.
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