Norwegian fish processors express concern that the Scottish Economic Link rules will leave a shortage of raw materials like mackerel and herring

Norwegian fish processors express concern that the Scottish Economic Link rules will leave a shortage of raw materials like mackerel and herring

Concerns have been expressed in Norwegian fish processing over the Scottish governments new “Economic Link” law which could result in the sector losing an important source of raw materials, according to Norwegian magazine Kystmagasinet.

Under the Economic Link, Scottish boats will be obliged to land 50% of their catch into Scottish ports and have announced that the new laws will be applicable to eight types of fish from January.

Kystmagasinet says that this will hit processors hard saying, “They can lose catches worth several hundred million kroner.”

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As of 14 November, British fishing vessels have delivered over 80,000 tonnes of mackerel in Norway. Mackerel delivered by vessels from, among others, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and the UK are very important for Norwegian pelagic reception.

“Most important are Scottish vessels. Including Shetlanders, they supply more than 70 percent of the foreign mackerel landed in Norway,” writes Kystmagasinet. “A number of the vessels have their own agreements with Norwegian buyers, and they contribute to both employment and, not least, profit for reception and in the form of fees to the Herring Association

“The new Scottish rules will apply to all vessels over ten metres in length that deliver more than ten tonnes of fish. These will be required to land 55 per cent of their annual catch in Scotland. The ten types of fish include mackerel and herring.”

The Scottish Government says that the new policy “… is amending the economic link criteria applying to Scottish fishing vessels to deliver greater socio-economic benefit from Scotland’s sea fish quota.”

Part of the policy’s aim is to strengthen the economic link licence condition for Scottish registered vessels to achieve greater benefits to Scotland and its fisheries-dependent communities from Scotland’s fishing opportunities. Licence conditions are to be amended so that landings of fish into Scotland form the main basis for compliance with economic link provisions.

The landings target will only cover the eight most important species, by landed value, into Scotland. These are – herring, mackerel, Nephrops, haddock, monkfish, cod, hake and whiting (“the 8 key species”) which account for 90% of the value of total landings by Scottish vessels of TAC stocks.

In relation to pelagic stocks, the landings target rate will be phased in and increased to 55% over a three-year period.

This will see the introduction of the following landings targets for pelagic species:

  • 30% landings in 2023
  • 40% landings in 2024
  • 55% landings in 2025

The Norwegian’s say that the UK pelagic boats receive better money for their catch from their buyers and that this new law will affect the profitability of UK boats, especially those from Scotland.

So far this year, 14 British vessels have delivered a total of 81,208 tonnes of mackerel. This number is based on registrations and may therefore be slightly higher or slightly lower. The pelagic trawler “Ocean Star” is at the top with a registered 11,660 tonnes worth approximately NOK 150 million (£12.7m). This is followed by “Voyager” with 7,560 tonnes and “Research” with 7,490 tonnes.

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Norwegian fish processors concern over Scottish Economic Link rules

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