The UK minister for employment has pledged to look at how job centres can do more to encourage local people to work in the North East seafood sector, following a meeting with the industry in Aberdeen.

Guy Opperman (pictured above), accompanied by Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid, met industry representatives including Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association.

The discussions follow the award last month of over £6.5m from the UK Seafood Fund to modernise and expand processing facilities in the region.

David Duguid said: “The issue of attracting local people into the sector is a longstanding one – particularly with such low unemployment in the area and competition from other industries such as oil and gas and the burgeoning renewables sector.

“The discussions around how local job centres in Peterhead and Fraserburgh can form better connections with the industry were extremely positive, and I look forward to seeing a difference in this in the future.

“It’s vital our processing sector keeps pace with increasing demand at home and abroad while boosting production and building a resilient industry for the future.

“This is why I welcomed the minister’s pledge for the DWP [Department of Work and Pensions] to help our industry with the people, training and support it needs in the North East to help ensure our region remains world leaders in seafood production.

“Of course, the industry has become highly dependent on overseas workers over the years, and I reminded those present of recent measures taken by the Home Office to help facilitate this.

“This is including, but not limited to, recent additions to the Shortage Occupation List of pretty much every role in the seafood processing sector, but work still continues on addressing this further.”

Guy Opperman added: “It’s key we support and sustain a vital local industry that provides hundreds of jobs and helps feed the nation.

“I learnt a lot, listened a lot, and took away action points and a renewed intensity for the local DWP team to help the industry with the people, the training and the support it needs to prosper.”

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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