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Scottish levy money used to promote Norwegian fish

Published: 12 Oct 2015 11:16

Fisheries Secretary says competing interests of Seafish shows need for action.

Further progress to give the Scottish Government responsibility for food levies is needed urgently, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said today.

Mr Lochhead has written to UK Government Secretary of State Liz Truss calling for urgent clarity on whether the UK Government will go ahead with the devolution of food levies.

As an example of why progress must be made, the Cabinet Secretary highlights the National Fish & Chip Awards, organised by the Seafish Industry Authority, which are being used to promote frozen Norwegian white fish into the UK market while North Sea stocks of white fish are improving.

Speaking during Seafood Week, Mr Lochhead said:

"I want to see the raising and investment of food levies helping to promote locally sourced produce and supporting our fishermen, farmers and others who work hard to produce our world-renowned food.

"However, I have been concerned for some time that the current UK-run system doesn't always work in the best interests of the Scottish industry and that's why I've called for food levy powers to be devolved.

"One example is a perfect illustration of this – the UK Seafish Industry Authority organises the UK fish and chip shop awards, which deservedly won in 2015 by Frankie's Fish & Chips in Shetland. However, the event is used by the Norwegian Seafood Council to promote frozen Norwegian fish into the UK market. I can understand why Seafish may feel obliged to do this, given the importance for the UK levy take of the large frozen fish levy-payers.

"But at a time when key white fish stocks in the North Sea, and quota for Scottish fishermen, are both rising, many in Scotland are bewildered and frustrated that the opportunity isn't taken to promote local, fresh Scottish-caught fish. This shows why we need the UK Government to commit to devolving powers over food levies to the Scottish Government as a matter of urgency and I look forward to working with the Secretary of State to try to make this happen."

David Leiper, chair of Scottish Seafood Association said:

"The Scottish Seafood Association very much support the Scottish Government's position that fish levy revenue raised here in Scotland by the Scottish fishing industry are used for the benefit of the industry here in Scotland to allow the correct level of promotion of our excellent products.

"Over a number of years we are of the view that the Sea Fish Authority have not always delivered in what we consider to be the key objective of promoting Scottish caught and processed fish."

Jimmy Buchan, Skipper of Amity II, said:

"I welcome the opportunity of raising the spending of levy generated from the Scottish Fishing Industry. Fishermen are like any other trading business in that we need to have a well-funded marketing plan fit for purpose.

"With the possibility of increased quotas in the future we need to make sure that we market our products in a global market place. Funds generated from the sale of fish caught and landed in Scotland should be reinvested here for long term sustainable growth where all Scottish stakeholders can benefit.

"Increased market opportunities are always welcome. Funded and managed correctly we can achieve much more giving the Scottish industry the boost it badly needs."

Carlyn Kearney from Frankie's Fish & Chips said:

"All our seafood comes from sustainable and well-managed local fisheries. I would encourage other fish and chip shops to share our practice of sourcing locally caught fish rather than frozen imports. We should be working in partnership with our fishermen and not against them."

Notes to editors

The finalists for the 2016 Fish & Chip Awards were announced last week (October 6, 2015) and are this month being taken on a promotional trip to Norway to 'learn about the supply of fish from Norway to the UK'. See http://www.fishandchipawards.com/about-the-awards/judging-process