The Scottish seafood industry is working extremely hard, adapting to new guidelines and developing new routes to the consumer in an effort to ensure a continuing supply of fresh, nutritious seafood during the coronavirus pandemic and the current ‘lockdown’, according to Seafood Scotland, the national trade and marketing body for the Scottish seafood industry.
In the last two weeks, the Scottish Government has made three support packages available for the seafood sector. These will assist fishing, seafood processing and aquaculture businesses that are facing hardship in the present market to help them maintain a critical supply for the UK market. With upwards of 80% of Scotland’s catch normally being exported internationally, the sector and the communities which depend on the sea for their livelihoods, directly or indirectly, have been particularly impacted but their survival is critical.
Donna Fordyce, interim head of Seafood Scotland, said: “What we have seen over the last three weeks is an unyielding determination from the seafood sector to maintain supply. Although working at a vastly reduced capacity, the fishing sector and seafood processors have adapted their way of working to ensure that fresh seafood, which is an important part of a healthy diet, is available and delivered safely to retailers and consumers.
“Businesses that normally ship seafood out of the UK on lorries, cargo planes and merchant ships are quickly developing new distribution networks closer to home, with some delivering direct to the doorsteps of their local communities.”
Normally around 60% of the fish eaten in Scotland is imported, but the current situation has caused a surge in demand from Scottish consumers who want to eat ‘their own’ seafood and seafood companies are meeting that demand.
For example, across the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Wild Hebridean, Uist Shellfish and Loch Bay Shellfish on Skye are all delivering direct to their customers who are clamouring for more fresh langoustines, lobster, crab, cockles, and mussels.
Scrabster Seafoods in Thurso are delivering fresh white fish to hungry locals, and Gigha Halibut is going out by mail to all corners of the UK, as are smokies from the East Neuk Kiln House and all types of seafood from Edinburgh-based George Hughes and Son under their ‘Fresh Fish Daily’ brand.
Welch’s Fishmonger in Edinburgh is delivering directly to the Capital’s foodies, and David Lowrie Fish Merchants have a pop-up shop in St Monans.
Donna Fordyce concluded: “The Scottish consumer now has fast, fresh and widespread access to Scottish seafood, and it’s at times like these when they are really showing their loyalty to home-grown businesses. While this trade is not going to replace the business done in international markets – many companies are doing less than 25% of their usual business at the moment – it’s a start, and the industry is hugely appreciative of the support Scottish consumers are showing them.”