THE Scottish salmon industry believes it can best benefit in the post-Brexit market if Britain enters into a European Economic Area (EAA) agreement.
Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, explained the industry’s position on Europe to Rural Affairs minister Fergus Ewing, shortly before a Scottish cabinet meeting on June 25, two days after Britain voted to leave the EU.
An EEA provides for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the internal market of the European Union (EU).
Landsburgh said the industry was clearly in favour of immigration because it employs immigrants in rural locations on the west coast.
The price of salmon has increased to almost record levels – an average of over eight euros a kilo for Norwegian salmon, with Scottish Label Rouge reaching 10.30 euros per kilo.
‘Currently, we’re in the best market conditions we’ve ever experienced,’ said Landsburgh. ‘There is a worldwide excess of demand over supply of salmon and the world can’t get enough of it. It’s paying really top dollar prices at the moment.
‘That’s not going to change any time soon whether we’re in or out of Europe. What we do want as an industry, however, is stability. We don’t want constitutional speculation as that undermines confidence in investors.
‘We want the best deal we can possibly get from the EU with regard to trade and that means, in our opinion, joining the EEA.’
He said that high market prices for salmon were countered to some extent by rising feed prices. These have increased by 18 per cent because the industry buys all its feed – or at least the primary constituents – in dollars and the pound has dropped by 18 per cent against the dollar.
‘Suddenly our feed costs – which are our main cost of production – have risen 18 per cent. Will one outweigh the other? Only time will tell.’