SCOTTISH fishermen’s leaders today called for Government support and for all sectors of the seafood industry to work together to combat plummeting fish prices at the quayside.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation called for action after warning that falling market prices for fish are having a severe economic impact on the Scottish fleet.
A federation spokesman said: “The global recession affecting the export trade combined with increased quantities of fish on the market from across northern Europe because of recovering stocks, along with fish imports from Asia and other parts of the world, are all thought to be contributing factors behind the fall in prices for Scottish caught fish
“The SFF believes it is now essential that a joint ‘from net to plate’ strategy is developed across all sectors of the supply chain to try and stimulate demand, focusing on the provenance and quality of Scottish caught seafood.”
Bertie Armstrong, the federation’s chief executive, said: “The fall in prices on the market for Scottish fish has been quite dramatic and is seriously hitting the economic viability of our fishing fleet, especially against a background of increasing fuel and other operating costs.
“At a time when the mass-produced food sector is under huge public scrutiny because of the horse meat scandal, we should be shouting from the rooftops about the quality of Scottish seafood and the short supply chain it takes to reach the plates of consumers.”
He added: “Fishermen, fish producer organisations, processors, government, retailers, food service companies and other relevant agencies all need to work more closely together to identify the reasons for the poor prices for fish and develop solutions and strategies that will help rectify the situation.
“The quality of Scottish seafood has a fantastic reputation both on the domestic and international markets and we need to capitalise upon this as much as we can. Our seafood is sustainably caught, tastes great and is one of the healthiest food products to eat there is.”
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Fisheries Secretary, said the Government was already working to address the problem.
He said: “Scotland has some of the highest quality and most delicious seafood anywhere in the world that is why we’re doing all we can to maximise its value. I established the Scottish Seafood Partnership (SSP), an industry-led forum which brings together all parts of the Scottish seafood supply chain and they are developing an action plan to drive the promotion and marketing of Scottish-caught seafood.
“I understand that the price for some fish is currently under pressure, partly due to global market conditions over which we have little control, but Scottish seafood is second to none for provenance, sustainability and quality. These attributes provide great opportunities for adding value to the product, whether for export or for local consumption within the UK. The Scottish Seafood Partnership is actively working to find ways to do this through joint action by those who make up the supply chain and to better match volume of landings with demand ashore.”
He added: “With the current horsemeat issue, we have seen that there is an increased desire amongst consumers for more locally sourced products. I am working closely with retailers to do just that – and Scottish fish will be a key item at the next Scottish Grocery Retailers Forum meeting next week.”