UK Seafood Industry Alliance – Written Evidence (NFF0006)

Introduction

  1. This response is submitted on behalf of the UK Seafood Industry Alliance (SIA).

 

  1. The SIA brings together companies belonging to two long established trade associations – the Provision Trade Federation (PTF) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) – in order to provide a clear and compelling voice for UK seafood processors and traders in response to the challenges of determining the best possible future framework for the industry outside the EU.

 

  1. Alliance members represent around 80% of the major suppliers of own label and branded seafood to retailers, caterers and restaurants, a total market worth over £6 billion a year. We employ more people than the entire UK catching sector and have a turnover roughly four and a half times the total value of UK fish landings - adding value, creating jobs and innovating to provide consumers with attractive affordable, easy to use products to meet growing demand for sustainable, health and nutritious food.

 

  1. It is a well-known feature of the UK seafood market that we import most of what we eat and export most of what we catch. Two thirds of fish consumed here come from waters outside current EU or possible future UK fishing limits. But a very substantial of majority of fish currently caught in UK waters are exported to other markets, mostly in the EU.

 

  1. This is the result of a variety of factors. Species like mackerel, herring and shellfish which predominate in UK waters are not in great demand on our domestic market. And the UK has traditionally relied on imports from countries like Iceland, Norway, the USA, Russia and Canada for the most popular whitefish species like cod, haddock and pollock, where total EU stocks have always fallen well short of market needs. The UK alone imports more than three and half times the total volume of cod landed by EU registered vessels from all waters.

 

  1. Even with total control of all stocks out to 200 miles, the UK would remain in very substantial deficit for all the top selling sectors of the market.

 

Views of the UKSIA

 

  1. The UK processing sector has been at the forefront of a range of sustainability and authenticity initiatives, including ensuring high ethical standards for the workers in our global supply chains. We have sponsored and supported independent certification of fisheries and aquaculture such as the Marine Stewardship Council and worked with Regional Fishery Management Organisations and other bodies to put in place fishery improvement projects and drive higher conservation standards. We collaborate with fishermen’s groups, NGOs, and Governments to ensure national and international fishery management is based on the best scientific advice and to maintain supply of affordable and sustainable seafood to the UK consumers and our export markets.

 

  1. Although we have no comments on the detail of this agreement, we welcome it as an essential step in the future management of shared marine resources.  By providing the necessary legal framework, this agreement sets out the terms for the way in which the UK and Norway will co-operate in the management of marine resources. 

 

  1. But agreement on managing shared resources is only part of the future UK/Norway relationship.  The UK is a net importer of seafood and imports over two thirds of our market needs.  For some white fish species the dependency on imports is much higher, up to 90% on some cases. 

 

  1.                     Like other food businesses, fish processors need competitively priced raw materials, the skills and labour required to produce value-added, quality products and a framework of regulation which gives consumers confidence in what they are buying. Without continuing access to zero or reduced duty raw material supplies – which currently account for around two thirds of what we eat – consumers would have less choice, the market would shrink and jobs and investment would be lost.

 

  1.                     Norway is one of the most important sources of supply and we would like to draw the Committees’ attention to the importance of Norway as a trading partner and the key role Norwegian fish plays in supplying the UK consumer.  Currently Norwegian seafood enters the EU at preferential duty rates and it is vital for UK processors, consumers and other stakeholders that this preferential access continues on at least as favourable terms as the current ones.

30 October 2020