Seafood processors demand urgent action on energy costs

Scotland’s seafood processors are demanding urgent action on high energy costs, which are threatening to drive some factories out of business.

Fishing industry leaders have called for greater government action to allow the sector to thrive
Fishing industry leaders have called for greater government action to allow the sector to thrive

In a letter to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, Scottish Seafood Association chief executive Jimmy Buchan warned that on top of Brexit and Covid, escalating fuel costs were having a “devastating impact on our ability to remain viable”.

“We all know from the daily headlines that this crisis is affecting everyone, but given our vital role when it comes to the nation’s food security, I feel it is incumbent on my organisation to make you aware of the precise nature of the toll it is exacting on seafood production.

“Our members are facing at least a doubling of energy costs between this year and next, and even greater expenditure in 2024. Evidently, that is not sustainable for the business or the consumer who needs to eat healthy, nutritious protein.”

Jimmy Buchan warned that fuel costs were having a “devastating impact”.

Mr Buchan said that businesses recognised the need for greater efficiencies and were focused on trimming excess costs.

“In Government we need a Prime Minister that understands and puts in place workable plans that allows our businesses to thrive.”

Meanwhile, fishing industry leaders have called for greater government action to allow the sector to thrive, not just survive, amid a growing range of challenges.

In an open letter to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “Both the UK and Scottish Governments have ambitious plans for expanding and accelerating electricity generation from offshore wind farms. We understand that the UK must transition away from fossil fuels to other forms of energy, but there are real risks that fishing becomes collateral damage as our vessels are squeezed out of key fishing grounds.

“To be part of the net-zero future fishing needs space at sea to continue operating efficiently and sustainably. We produce food with a lower carbon footprint than all other forms of animal protein, indeed some Scottish fisheries have carbon emissions lower than plant-based protein sources.”

Ms Macdonald also called for significant improvements to the Brexit deal and for action on labour shortages and fuel costs.