Brussels re­ports

But politi­cians stay away from show de­spite Brexit back­drop

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THE world’s big­gest seafood show, held in Brussels in early May, saw more than 29,000 vis­i­tors at­tend­ing over three days, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates by the or­gan­is­ers. Seafood Expo Global ex­panded this year to in­clude a sec­ond pro­cess­ing hall, and ac­com­mo­date 2,007 ex­hibit­ing com­pa­nies – an in­crease of 61 over 2018 – rep­re­sent­ing 88 coun­tries.

The event cov­ered 40,559 square me­tres of ex­hi­bi­tion space, break­ing last year’s record by 1,237 square me­tres, said Di­ver­si­fied Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

There were 81 po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic del­e­ga­tions from 49 coun­tries, but none from the Scot­tish or UK gov­ern­ments this year, de­spite the cur­rent fo­cus on Bri­tain’s fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ship with Europe in the on­go­ing Brexit process.

How­ever, the Scot­tish pav­il­ion show­cased the best of the UK’s seafood in­dus­try and ex­hibitors re­ported busy stands and much in­ter­est.

Ahead of the show, Seafood Scot­land launched a growth blue­print, in­clud­ing strate­gies for bet­ter mar­ket­ing, ac­cess to fund­ing, im­prov­ing skills and build­ing pro­cess­ing ca­pac­ity.

The ‘Chang­ing Tides’ doc­u­ment is de­signed to be a cat­a­lyst for change in Scot­land’s seafood sec­tor, in line with the coun­try’s goal to dou­ble the value of food and drink to £30 bil­lion by 2030.

Pa­trick Hughes, head of Seafood Scot­land, which com­piled the re­port, said: ‘Ir­re­spec­tive of Brexit, the ac­tions laid out in Chang­ing Tides are nec­es­sary to move the in­dus­try for­ward.

‘With­out ac­tion we will be un­able to re­alise the in­dus­try’s full po­ten­tial. We have a real op­por­tu­nity to act col­lab­o­ra­tively across the sec­tor.’

The strat­egy ac­knowl­edged the work­be­ing done by the aqua­cul­ture sec­tor in its in­dus­try led Aqua­cul­ture Growth to 2030 vi­sion, cre­ated in 2017.

‘We echo the

plan’s call for en­abling and pro­por­tion­ate reg­u­la­tion and pol­icy mak­ing that is con­ducive to sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth,’ the Chang­ing Tides re­port said. ‘This ap­proach should ap­ply across the seafood in­dus­try – to the catch­ing sec­tor as well as aqua­cul­ture – and bal­ance the needs of both sec­tors.’ Among the chal­lenges iden­ti­fied in the Chang­ing Tides re­port are skills and labour short­ages, un­cer­tainty over fu­ture fund­ing to pro­mote Scot­tish seafood, sup­ply chain in­ter­ac­tions, in­no­va­tion, pro­cess­ing ca­pac­ity, reg­u­la­tion, Brexit – and how to get con­sumers to eat more fish. Steps to ad­dress these chal­lenges in­clude: • A re­view of fund­ing streams for mar­ket­ing sup­port for Scot­tish seafood, look­ing at mod­els such as the Nor­we­gian Seafood Coun­cil; • The cre­ation of an in­vest­ment tool­kit that demon­strates how busi­nesses can at­tract in­ward in­vest­ment and present them­selves to in­vestors; • Re­mov­ing un­nec­es­sary or un­fair fi­nan­cial and reg­u­la­tory bur­dens that sti­fle am­bi­tion and pre­vent busi­nesses from grow­ing sus­tain­ably; • Em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion, and au­to­ma­tion in par­tic­u­lar, look­ing at lessons from na­tions such as Ice­land; • Find­ing suc­ces­sor fund­ing to the Euro­pean Mar­itime and Fish­eries Fund (EMFF) post-Brexit; • Devel­o­ing a lead­er­ship mas­ter­class pro­gramme; • De­vel­op­ing a seafood ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme that makes school­child­ren and ed­u­ca­tors aware of ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties in the in­dus­try; • En­sur­ing post-Brexit arrangemen­ts around im­mi­gra­tion and work per­mits take ac­count of the needs of the seafood in­dus­try; •De­vel­op­ing com­mer­cial so­lu­tions around waste and by-prod­ucts; • Re­view­ing the cur­rent ca­pac­ity of the seafood pro­cess­ing sec­tor. The re­port also looked to the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try’s 2030 growth strat­egy rec­om­men­da­tions on trans­port lo­gis­ti­cal con­straints. James Withers, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Scot­land Food & Drink, said: ‘There is a £30 bil­lion prize out there by 2030 for Scot­tish food and drink. This new vi­sion and roadmap for our seafood in­dus­try will mean it plays one of the most sig­nif­i­cant roles in un­lock­ing that huge op­por­tu­nity.’ Read the full re­port at http://seafood­scot­land.org/chang­ing-tides/

“We have a real op­por­tu­nity to act col­lab­o­ra­tively across sec­tor’” the

Above:: Vis­i­tors and guests at the Scot­tish pav­il­ion Left: Fish and chips at the Scot­tish re­cep­tion

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