SCOTLAND’S seafood industry has launched a growth blueprint that includes strategies for better marketing, access to funding, improving skills and building processing capacity.
The 18-point ‘action plan’ has been launched on the eve of the world’s biggest seafood show, beginning in Brussels on Tuesday, with Scottish companies and seafood representatives expected to be out in force.
The ‘Changing Tides’ document is designed to be a catalyst for change in Scotland’s seafood sector, in line with the country’s goal to double the value of food and drink to £30 billion by 2030.
Patrick Hughes, head of Seafood Scotland, which compiled the report, said: ‘Irrespective of Brexit, the actions laid out in Changing Tides are necessary to move the industry forward.
‘Without action we will be unable to realise the industry’s full potential. We have a real opportunity to act collaboratively across the sector.’
The strategy acknowledged the work already being done by the aquaculture sector in its industry led Aquaculture Growth to 2030 vision, created in 2017.
‘We echo the plan’s call for enabling and proportionate regulation and policymaking that is conducive to sustainable economic growth,’ the Changing Tides report said.
‘This approach should apply across the seafood industry – to the catching sector as well as aquaculture – and balance the needs of both sectors.’
Among the challenges identified in the Changing Tides report are skills and labour shortages, uncertainty over future funding to promote Scottish seafood, supply chain interactions, innovation, processing capacity, regulation, Brexit – and how to get consumers to eat more fish.
Steps to address these challenges include:
• A strategic review into alternative long-term funding streams for marketing support for Scottish seafood, looking at models such as the Norwegian Seafood Council;
• The creation of an investment toolkit that demonstrates how businesses can attract inward investment and present themselves to investors;
• Creating an enabling environment for business by removing unnecessary or unfair financial and regulatory burdens that stifle ambition and prevent businesses from growing sustainably;
• Embracing technology innovation, and automation in particular, looking at lessons from nations such as Iceland;
• Finding successor funding to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) post-Brexit;
• Developing a package of training options with clear funding mechanisms that are linked to a framework of training providers;
• Developing a leadership masterclass programme that will not only develop world class leaders of seafood businesses but also a pipeline of leaders for the industry of the future;
• Developing a seafood education programme at both primary and secondary levels that makes schoolchildren and educators aware of career opportunities in the industry, as well as the health benefits of eating seafood;
• Ensuring post-Brexit arrangements around immigration and work permits take account of the needs of the seafood industry, including the seasonal workforce and its importance to the Scottish economy;
• Developing commercial solutions around waste and by-products;
• Reviewing the current capacity of the Scottish seafood processing sector and the likely processing requirements based on increased landings post-Brexit.
The report also looked to the aquaculture industry’s 2030 growth strategy recommendations on transport logistical constraints.
‘In conjunction with existing government work streams, we recommend taking this recommendation further. Through mapping constraints across the entire seafood sector and looking at the potential for new domestic and international routes and chill facilities, we can support sector growth.’
The report was compiled following ten sessions held across Scotland and including shellfish and finfish producers; the catching sector; processors; retailers, and representatives from government, enterprise and skills agencies, Scotland Food and Drink, and fishing organisations, among others.
Patrick Hughes said: ‘Changing Tides is the beginning of a process – to clearly set out the steps required to help the Scottish seafood sector reach its long-term potential.
‘Our reputation for quality and sustainability has seen Scottish seafood travel all over the world, and with additional support from partners at home, the industry can sustain the status quo and go on to achieve significant growth.’
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: ‘The Scottish seafood industry is a key driver in the economy.
‘There is a £30 billion prize out there by 2030 for Scottish food and drink. This new vision and roadmap for our seafood industry will mean it plays one of the most significant roles in unlocking that huge opportunity.’
Read the report at http://seafoodscotland.org/changing-tides/
Picture: Patrick Hughes, head of Seafood Scotland, at Peterhead fish market