Representatives of the fishing and fish processing industries in Scotland met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson today to share their concerns over quota negotiations and labour shortages.
The meeting took place meeting in Fraserburgh, in north east Scotland. Chief Executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, Jimmy Buchan outlined how Brexit and Covid-19 had combined to create a perilous situation for companies, with production and export capacity severely reduced.
He demanded urgent action from the Prime Minister to help address the issue of labour shortages within the sector.
Also at the meeting, representatives from the fishing industry called on the PM to negotiate a better deal for the UK sector’s allocation of quotas, and raised concern that the drive to exploit renewable wind power along the coast could have an impact on offshore fishing grounds.
After the meeting, Jimmy Buchan said: “I along with others from the catching sector made it plain to the Prime Minister that the Brexit deal had fallen far short of expectations.
And most pertinently for the processing sector, I sought an assurance that the Government would work closely with us to resolve the critical shortage of labour.
He agreed that a campaign was required to encourage young people into the industry and on the need for direct action to stem the haemorrhage of overseas workers that has occurred since 1 January.”
Jimmy Buchan agreed to carry out further discussions on how to move forward with Scotland Office minister David Duguid.
Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation also commented: “The Prime Minister has spoken previously of an El Dorado of fish from 2026 onwards but we are seeking a commitment from him to deliver much better opportunities for the Scottish fleet in the meantime as well as in the longer term.”
“In the short term it will be a case of survival for the industry, but we want to thrive, and to ensure that we can build back this industry we need to start planning now.”
As well as Brexit, food processors have been hit by Covid-19 self-isolation rules – the so-called “pingdemic” – with many workers having to stay at home after being notified that they have been in proximity to an individual who has tested positive. Last month, the rules on isolation were changed to allow priority workers in the food supply chain to take daily Covid-19 tests if they have been “pinged”, rather than having to isolate.