Scottish salmon farm off Arnisdale

Reliability is what we need

We thought we knew what it would look like. The queues of trucks would stretch back from Dover through the Kent countryside, massive lorry parks would be full and there would be scuffles between angry hauliers and the police.

We did see these things but only before Christmas, after the French shut the border claiming that Covid had forced them to take action.

Tavish Scott takes co-chair position on the AILG

Tavish Scott is to take up the role of Co-Chair of the Aquaculture Industry Leadership Group (AILG). The Group was established by the sector and is supported by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism Fergus Ewing and brings together industry stakeholders including Government, regulators, aquaculture producers and its value chain.

Mr Scott, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), will take up the role at the next meeting of the AILG, in the Spring.

Whole Scottish salmon on ice

This year definitely will be better...

“1349 was even worse, of course, so we have that to be grateful for.” That was the message in a card from one friend at Christmas time.

An exaggeration perhaps but, given what everyone has gone through in 2020, perhaps only a slight one.

We haven’t had the full 2020 export figures for Scottish salmon yet but we know they are down, significantly, on the year before.

Tavish Scott at Shetland salmon farm

Reflections on 2020

In any normal year, this sort of annual roundup would be fairly routine: there would be successes and challenges to discuss, innovations and new markets to champion and performance to assess.

But not this year. This past year has been so unusual, so unexpected and so challenging that we will be talking about it and analysing the fallout for many decades to come.

It has tested our member companies in so many ways: from the sudden imposition to new work patterns to the virtual collapse of previously solid foreign markets,

Whole Scottish salmon on ice

Access to market, not government handouts, are what Salmon producers need right now

The UK’s seafood businesses have had enough. On Monday freight lorries blocked the central London route for ministerial cars to the Palace of Westminster in an orderly demonstration. No wonder. The livelihoods of businesses and people are in jeopardy. They work across Scotland and other UK coastal communities. Devon and Cornwall’s seafood businesses face the same enormous challenge of exporting into Europe as those from north of the border. Scottish seafood has further to travel down the M6 but the increased Brexit paperwork is the same whether you are in Peterhead or Penzance.

Tavish Scott at Shetland salmon farm

Comment: Salmon farmers want market access not handouts

The UK’s seafood businesses have had enough. On Monday freight lorries blocked the central London route for ministerial cars to the Palace of Westminster in an orderly demonstration. No wonder. The livelihoods of businesses and people are in jeopardy. They work across Scotland and other UK coastal communities. Devon and Cornwall’s seafood businesses face the same enormous challenge of exporting into Europe as those from north of the border. Scottish seafood has further to travel down the M6 but the increased Brexit paperwork is the same whether you are in Peterhead or Penzance.

Label Rouge Scottish Salmon

Salmon farmers are floundering in net of Brexit red tape

The aftermath of Brexit is now a reality for Scotland’s salmon farming companies. Market price is down. Costs and bureaucracy are up. Lorries of salmon have been delayed or stopped from even reaching the Channel since the new regulations kicked in on New Year’s Day.

The transfer to the UK’s export status as a third country and not an EU single market member was never going to be without pain. But the reality is now biting. We need the government to deliver lighter-touch trading rules for export businesses.

Salmon farm near Glenelg

Climbing the salmon ladder to career success

One experienced salmon farmer tells of growing up in the Western Isles in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the warning handed down by teachers to children who failed to pay attention in class.

“Study hard and get good grades,” the teacher would say, “Otherwise you’ll end up working at the salmon farm.”

Now the opposite is true. Teachers are much more likely to tell their pupils: “Study hard and get good grades or you’ll miss the chance to work at the salmon farm.”

It is easy to see why.

Label Rouge Scottish Salmon

It's déjà vu all over again

Baseball legend Yogi Berra may not have been talking about Brexit, but he certainly could have been.

First there was March last year, then there was October last year. On each occasion we were told to prepare for a No Deal Brexit only to be led back from the cliff at the last moment.

This time, however, it’s for real. The transition phase easing the UK’s departure from the EU will finish at the end of this year. There will be no retreat.

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