Clare Macdougall, Seafood Scotland Head of Trade Marketing Middle East, US and UK says, “The climate change issue intersects with every sustainability issue affecting the Scottish seafood industry, and across the value chain from catch to consumption. The balance between environmental, social, and economic issues is significant, as one must not be achieved at the expense of the others. This is where the seafood sector will innovate to find solutions that achieve what must be achieved while maintaining a vibrant sector that supports Scottish communities.”
Research has uncovered that the most significant and important issues facing the Scottish seafood sector today are healthy fish stocks, trade policies, regulatory compliance, climate change, decent jobs and profitability, and worker safety. As an industry that relies on the balance between nature, community, and commerciality to thrive, it is in their best interests to have a strong commitment to playing our part in Scotland’s net-zero journey.
Clare Macdougall, Seafood Scotland Head of Trade Marketing Middle East, US and UK continue, “We will only strive towards net-zero with collaboration and sharing of best practice. Sustainability has long been high on the business agenda throughout the sector but there is a limit to what individual companies can do to drive the industry to achieve net-zero. The time is right for the industry to come together and create a pathway to net-zero, sharing or sourcing specialist knowledge, tools, and support. We need strategy and framework to drive and support change. This will include tools, guidance, and advice; plus interaction with the Government in terms of grant funding will be crucial.”
Those inside the Scottish seafood sector have suggested the following ways the industry could adapt and respond to change:
Renewable energy: enabling the fishing and processing sectors to access electricity generated by wind/tidal energy.
Blue carbon: recognising the carbon stored in marine ecosystems and the importance of maintaining this; also exploring the potential for future carbon sequestration and blue carbon credits.
Research: to understand blue carbon, protect carbon sinks, or find new ways to provide energy.
Scottish seafood industry insiders know it will not be easy, with potential threats including spatial conflicts between fisheries habitats and major infrastructures, such as offshore wind farms, and the trend towards increasing temperatures means the industry must be equipped to change as quickly as the climate.
Landing over 540,000 tonnes every year, seafood is Scotland’s largest food export amassing over £1 billion in revenue per year. Over two-thirds of the world’s langoustines are sourced in Scotland, with salmon being the number one export species for Scottish companies. In the UAE, Scottish seafood can be found in Spinneys, Waitrose, Lulu, MAF Carrefour, and Choithrams and in 5*hotels including Jumeriah, Marriott, and Accor.
To continue to export internationally, Scottish seafood haulers, such as DR Collin & Son, AM Shellfish, and Venture Seafood, rely on specialist equipment, military planning, and good road infrastructures to ensure that fresh Scottish seafood can be enjoyed the world over. Seafood is exported to the Middle East by air via Heathrow, where it is taken by road to travel as belly-hold cargo in already scheduled passenger planes.
Only a small amount of Scottish seafood is exported to non-EU countries directly from Scottish airports given limited facilities at local airports for storing chilled foods. This means that road freight haulers must operate ‘just in time’ deliveries to meet flights and minimise holding time.