Mackerel catch. (Photo: Stock File)
New mackerel markets sought to make up for Russian ban
Monday, August 18, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has pledged her full support for Scotland’s world-class fishing industry in response to Russia’s unjustified food export ban.
The UK government, alongside industry, the Scottish government and the European Commission (EC), is working to open up lucrative new fish markets to help businesses increase their international trade.
The recent ban imposed by Russia is expected to have the most effect on Scotland’s mackerel trade with around GBP 16 million (EUR 19.9 million) worth exported to the Russian market each year.
"This ban is totally unjustified and I share the concerns of Scotland’s fishing industry about the possible impact on their business," said the Environment Secretary in Peterhead, where she met on Friday with mackerel fishermen.
"I want Scotland’s fishermen to be assured the UK government stands ready to support them throughout these sanctions. We will continue to use our clout to lobby hard in Brussels on behalf of Scotland’s world-class fishing industry."
As part of the UK government’s approach the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will:
- Work hard to open up new markets and increase access to existing markets for high quality British mackerel, especially in the Far East and West Africa;
- Work with the fishing industry to manage supplies of mackerel this coming fishing season (October to March) to help keep prices stable;
- Look with the Scottish government at what support can be provided to meet the cost to fishermen of storing frozen mackerel while alternative markets are sought; and
- Call on the EC to consider the merits of any potential World Trade Organisation case to ensure the rules of international trade are upheld.
The food ban represents 0.2 per cent of the UK’s GBP 18.9 billion (EUR 23.5 billion) food exports. Products covered by the sanctions include poultry, pork, fish, dairy and vegetables. While the UK Govenrment does not anticipate a significant overall impact to business, Scotland’s mackerel industry is expected to be the most affected.
Defra pledges it will continue to work closely with trade associations and the wider food industry to help them monitor the impact of this ban.
Commenting on Mrs Truss' fact finding visit to Peterhead, Ross Dougal, Vice-President of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said:
“She listened carefully to a wide range of industry concerns – in particular the impact the forthcoming discards ban will have on our whitefish, prawn and pelagic fishermen, and the need for there to be a sensible and practicable management regime that shows great flexibility and doesn’t threaten the future viability of our fishing fleets."
"She also heard of our real fears over the impact of Russian retaliatory sanctions on mackerel fishermen and processors, and the importance of support measures to help the sector through this difficult period. We welcome that the Secretary of State recognised these concerns, and that the UK Government is working with the Scottish Government towards implementing measures to alleviate their impact," Dougal concluded.
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