ABERDEEN, September 5 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – Scotland’s pelagic industry is one of the sectors suffering from Russian trade restrictions the most, which must be taken into account in response measures brought forward by the European Union, Richard Lockhead, Scotland’s Minister for Rural Affairs has told RIA Novosti.
“Scotland’s pelagic industry is one of the sectors worst affected by the Russian trade sanctions and this must be taken into account in any response measures brought forward by the EU,” Lockhead said.
The Scottish Government confirmed it was sending Lockhead to an emergency meeting of the EU’s Agrifish Council Friday to lobby for more help for the fishing industry which is being hit hard as a result of the sanctions.
“I have already asked the European Commission to make this sector a priority and will do so again in Brussels today,” the minister added.
Bertie Armstrong, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation, commented on Russian retaliatory sanctions banning the import in Russia of Scottish mackerel and other food products calling them counter-productive.
“We do believe, however, that Russia’s retaliatory sanctions are totally counter-productive, as not only do they affect the fish and other food sectors in the EU, but they are also damaging for Russian consumers and the country’s food industry,” Armstrong told RIA Novosti.
Asked by RIA Novosti whether they were content to lobby for their industry through the EU rather than make a direct appeal to the Russian Federation, Armstrong said that “under this process, we are fully supportive of today’s Agrifish Council to discuss the Russian ban on European food exports and for measures that can be introduced to mitigate their impact.”
He refused to criticize the role of the EU, US and UK Governments who instigated the crisis.
“As a fishing organization, it is not our place to comment upon wider geopolitical issues, which is a matter for democratically elected Governments,” Armstrong concluded.
Before the ban, Scotland exported $73 million of food and drink to Russia annually but since the sanctions began almost a half of those exports, $35 million, have been affected. 20 percent of all Scottish mackerel caught and processed by Scottish fisherman was previously exported to Russia.