Two months on from the release of the Scottish Nephrops Working Group report (Fishing News, 23 September, ‘Working group sets out improvements for Scots Nephrops sector’), the Scottish government has published a 17-page response to the recommendations made.

The working group, chaired by Uel Morton and facilitated by Seafood Scotland, with representation from the Scottish Nephrops catching and processing sectors, was set up in response to a disastrous fall in value and volume of the prawn fishery as a result of Covid, but further compounded by marketing, transport and processing issues in the post- Brexit transition of the industry.

The working group made a number of recommendations, to be supported by an £800,000 fund made available by Marine Scotland, to be spent by April 2022. These recommendations included steps to recover existing markets damaged by Covid and Brexit, taking steps to develop new markets, and supporting improvements in efficiency and product quality across the entire Nephrops value chain.

Leading the Marine Scotland response to the recommendations, cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands Mairi Gougeon said: “We look forward to supporting the recommendations for one of the most valuable stocks landed in Scotland.

“The delivery of a globally recognised premium product which is sustainably sourced, and delivers a valuable economic input to a future low-carbon economy, is of the utmost importance to us.

“While many of the recommendations in this report will be for industry to take forward through the programme board set up by the sector, we will play our part through our involvement in the board and the remaining funding which has been awarded through Marine Fund Scotland.”

In parallel with this ‘important work’, ‘our local food strategy consultation and the development of a Sustainably Scottish brand will help to support and grow Scottish seafood as a premium-quality sustainable low-carbon food close to home as well as internationally’, she said.

Action points confirmed in the response, based around the budget of £800,000, but also to work within wider support from the Scottish government to the food sector in general, are:

  • Funding for two experts to be recruited on a short-term basis to provide direct support to the industry in dealing with post- Brexit paperwork and access to existing European markets
  • Funding for trade missions both into, and out of, Scotland, to facilitate broader marketing discussions and events, including attendance at trade shows
  • Funding for new posts inside the buying teams of UK retailers, to increase their sourcing of Scottish foods, including Nephrops
  • Development of a clear Sustainably Scottish food brand, that would include emphasis on the sustainability of Scottish Nephrops.

The working group is scheduled to meet again on 29 November. Ahead of that meeting, a programme manager is being recruited to co-ordinate the workstreams being funded, and to develop a European marketing campaign.

A potential Nephrops quality assurance scheme will also be developed and presented to the working group for consideration.

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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