Scots firms aim to net £20m boost at Brussels seafood fair

THE Scottish seafood industry hopes to generate more than £20 million of sales as an international fair gets under way in Brussels.

Scottish firms taking part in the European Seafood Exposition – which attracts buyers and sellers from more than 140 countries – are looking forward to a "record year" where demand outstrips supply.

The value of business generated from the exhibition has increased annually from 16m in 2007 to 20m last year, the industry said.

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Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Our fishing and aquaculture sectors have worked hard to earn a reputation for quality, and the time has come to turn these plaudits into profits."

The SNP Government is promoting 2010 as a "year of food and drink" following last year's Homecoming cultural celebrations.

The fair is the largest in the world and will feature 17 companies from Scotland.

Meanwhile, Mr Lochhead has criticised the UK Government for "rejecting" his request to represent Scotland at an informal EU fisheries council meeting in Vigo, Spain.

A member of the House of Lords will go instead to the talks, which will include discussions on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Mr Lochhead, who wants wholesale reform of the policy, said: "Scotland's fishing industry represents around 70 per cent of the UK's, and yet despite fisheries being devolved, our Government, our Parliament and coastal communities will be represented by a peer who has been drafted in at the last minute and has no background in fisheries."