LUNAR Fishing, which catches and processes fish like mackerel and is an important employer in the North East, has suffered a dip in profits but said it is in good shape after recording a big increase in its net worth.

Accounts for the ­Peterhead-based firm show pre-tax profits fell to £9.03 million in 2013, from £10.99m in the preceding year following a dip in margins and £1.1m in foreign exchange losses.

In their report directors noted the gross profit margin fell to 18.47 per cent from 20.5 per cent in the preceding year.

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However, they said the group had achieved a ­satisfactory trading performance.

They added: "The net assets of the group increased from £82.52m to £87.96m reflecting continued growth in the financial strength of the group."

The company, owned by the Buchan family, has benefited from strong demand for oily pelagic fish such as mackerel in areas like Eastern Europe in recent years.

In their report, dated 12 June, directors noted: "The commercial environment in the market for pelagic fish continues to be buoyant and the group is well placed to take advantage of this having made substantial investment in both the catching and processing sectors of the industry."

However, since the report was written Russia has imposed a ban on imports of fish from the UK, amid the stand off over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Earlier this month Sinclair Banks, a director of Lunar Fishing, said the ban could be damaging to the industry in the long term.

He noted Lunar had had to cancel the shipment of a cargo of herring that it had sold to Russia.

Scotland's Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said recently that up to 20 per cent of the mackerel processed in Scotland is exported directly to Russia meaning the sanctions by the country would have a disproportionate impact on the Scottish industry.

Mackerel fishermen have said they should be allowed to carry forward some of this year's quota into next year to take account of the dip in trade caused by the embargo.

In their report, directors of Lunar also noted: "The white fish sector continues to experience difficulties with quota allocations but again the group, having made substantial investment, is well placed to meet ongoing challenges."

The average monthly number of employees rose to 264 in 2013 from 261 in 2012. Staff costs increased to £10.7m from £10.5m.