Trinity Seafoods, a new collaboration between three major players in the Scottish seafood sector – Denholm Seafoods, The Don Fishing Company and Seafood Ecosse – plans to create a new, highly automated business that it hopes will allow both UK and EU consumers to benefit from the huge quantities of small haddock being seen across large areas of the eastern North Sea.

With stocks healthy, and quotas available, it has been lack of demand for the smaller sizes of haddock, particularly the smallest A4 grade, that has deterred many vessels from taking advantage for the fishery.

Prices for round A4 haddock have consistently been below 50p/kg this year, and occasionally half this price. The low demand has been attributed to lack of processing capacity for these sizes, as well as consumer preference for larger fillets.

Numerous explanations for the abundance of smaller fish have been given, with scientists suggesting that warming sea temperatures are encouraging earlier maturity of the haddock, which then put their energy into reproduction rather than growth. There is also the suggestion that the sheer volumes of small haddock on the grounds are seeing increased competition for feed, impacting growth rates.

The new business will utilise state of the art machinery to process smaller sizes of whitefish, concentrating on MSC-certified haddock, which will be aimed at the UK and EU supermarket trade. It will also offer products for value-added ranges across UK, European and international markets.

Trinity Seafoods’ operation will be based in Peterhead in newly refurbished premises, fitted out with processing lines adapted to cope with the challenges of processing soft, smaller sizes of whitefish, which can be a particular challenge for automated processing.

The refurbishment, expected to complete this summer, has been undertaken with the support of £360,000 from the Scottish government’s Marine Fund. The new business is expected to become fully operational later in 2024.

The three partner companies bring to the table very different strengths and skillsets that will support the overall venture. The Don Fishing Company and Denholm Group already invest in a large number of UK whitefish vessels.

Denholm is a major processor in global pelagic markets, with vast experience of machine- processed pelagic fish, freezing and logistics. Seafood Ecosse is a whitefish and shellfish processor and exporter with a strong track record of whitefish processing and marketing expertise.

Bill McKenzie, managing director of The Don Fishing Company, said: “This exciting new initiative will provide fishermen with a viable outlet for catches of smaller-sized whitefish and provides a solution to ensure their sustainable use.”

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

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