Seafood processors present united front
Scottish seafood processors have teamed up with counterparts in England to present a united front to champion the sector on both sides of the border.
Jimmy Buchan, celebrity fishing skipper and business manager for the Scottish Seafood Association (SSA) â€“ the trade body representing processors in Scotland â€“ travelled south to meet representatives of Grimsbyâ€™s Fish Merchants Association and industry group Seafood Grimsby and Humber.
Mr Buchan, who starred in the BBCâ€™s popular Trawlermen series, said there was plenty of common ground on a range of issues affecting the sector in the run-up to Brexit and beyond.
Themes discussed included the supply of labour and processorsâ€™ ability to transport cargo in and out of the UK after March 2019.
â€śVery important contentious issues were raised, including discussion on a free and frictionless border to keep trade flowing,â€ť Mr Buchan said.
He added: â€śWe will not always agree on all issues, but where common ground and representation for the sector needs a united voice we will speak with a united voice for the good of all employed across the sector and others who support the industry.
â€śNow the first meeting has taken place we intend to meet in the new year to discuss the long-term future of the seafood sector.â€ť
Other topics discussed at the fish and chip lunch meeting, which was set up by seafood industry body Seafish, included the automation of processing and future government funding to support innovation.
Simon Dwyer, representing the Grimsby and Humber-based organisations, said: â€śWe have a common cause with Jimmy and his members, and thatâ€™s to sustain our processing sectors beyond Brexit and work with our governments to create conditions for growth.
â€śThe UK consumer market is big enough for both clusters to support an increase in seafood consumption and remain competitive with processors abroad.â€ť
All parties agreed to continue the dialogue and, with the support of Seafish, meet again next year.
Peterhead-based SSA represents more than 70 predominantly small and medium-sized processors north of the border.
Nearly half of the estimated 12,000 jobs currently supported by the UK seafood processing sector are based in Scotland, including about 3,800 in the north-east alone.