Scotland’s salmon sector hit by post-Brexit labour shortages

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Scotland’s farm-raised salmon sector has joined calls from the food and drink industry for more flexibility in the UK’s immigration system to help address labour shortages.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, has called on the UK Government to add fish processing to its shortage occupation list to make it easier for firms to recruit labour from the EU. Scott warned fish processing is suffering from a workforce “squeeze”, particularly in the farm-raised salmon sector

In a letter to the UK’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, George Eustice, Scott joined the chief executives of four other Scottish food and drink organisations in calling for the recommendations of a new report by Westminster’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee to be urgently implemented.

Read also: Salmon Scotland urges UK government to remove post-Brexit bureaucracy “plaguing the system”

The recommendations include urging the UK Government to work with industry leaders to address labour shortages and to develop a long-term labour strategy

The letter, signed by Salmon Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, Seafood Scotland, Scotland Food & Drink and National Farmers Union Scotland warned that the Scottish food and drink industry is suffering from “acute labour shortages”.

“This labour force issue is affecting the ability of our producers and manufacturers to serve customers both at home and abroad, restricting growth and curbing exports,” the letter states.

Read also: Salmon Scotland reveals three challenges hurting Scottish producers

“Our members have the ability to thrive and help the country recover from both the long-term effects of Covid and the additional costs of Brexit caused by non-tariff barriers. But, to do this, we need proper access to labour and this can only come with the help and support from the government,” the statement from the group of organisations said.

“Fish processing, particularly in the farm-raised salmon, is suffering from a labour squeeze, and we want the government to help by implementing the recommendations in the committee’s report,” Scott said. “We want to see more flexibility in the UK’s immigration policy, and a long-term strategy to ease this situation in the years to come,” the Salmon Scotland chief executive added.