THERE are opportunities post-Brexit for Scotland’s seafood industry to grab a bigger share of the world market, once the practical challenges are overcome.
This was the message from Rural Economy minister Fergus Ewing to delegates at the Seafood Summit in Aberdeen this morning.
Highlighting the importance of the sector to the Scottish, and UK, economy, he said seafood represented 8,000 processing jobs and 12,000 aquaculture jobs north of the border.
A no deal would have a disproportionate impact on Scotland, with certification demands and port delays posing very significant potential risks to its biggest export market.
Furthermore, access to labour was a particular challenge in Scotland, where the processing sector was dependent on non UK nationals.
Ewing said he was taking a pragmatic approach to the challenges, for instance working with the SSPO (Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation) over export health certificates, which were estimated to increase from around 50,000 a year to 200,000.
Other proposals to ease trade following the split with Europe included air freighting more products from Scotland, engaging with the major UK retailers to encourage them to source more Scottish produce, removing the need for export health certificates, allocating space on ferries for seafood exports, and prioritising seafood lorries at Dover when delays could render perishable consignments valueless.
The last measure has apparently been ruled out at this stage by UK Environment minister Michael Gove, said Ewing, who added that he would press Westminster further on this and other matters.
Seafood was at the heart of the food and drink industry’s ambition in Scotland to double its value to £30 billion by 2030.
‘But the potential is there if we work together once the Brexit dust has settled,’ said Ewing. ‘We have the opportunity to grab a bigger share of the market in the world for our fish products.’
The Seafood Summit, organised by Seafish, at the Hilton DoubleTree, concludes today. Talks will focus on advances in processing, as well as the impacts of Brexit on fisheries. Seafood processors’ leader and former fisherman Jimmy Buchan will give the closing speech at 3.30pm.
The conference is being live streamed on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mok7WvzbvU
Picture: Fergus Ewing and Seafish CEO Marcus Coleman in Aberdeen this morning