TURMOIL: Huge protests have taken place in crisis-hit Spain, a major consumer of Scottish fish, against austerity measures. Main picture: AP
Every week, truckloads of seafood caught off the Scottish coast find their way to European restaurants, particularly in Spain.
In the 12 months to July 2011 the UK exported nearly 17,500 tonnes of seafood to Spain, with the bulk coming from Scotland. It was worth £74,482,246.
However, in the following 12 months there was a significant reduction to 15,500 tonnes, worth £65,856,730, again with most coming from Scotland.
Sarah Holmyard, Seafood Scotland's European marketing manager, said: "While Spain remains an important export market for Scottish seafood, it is getting increasingly difficult to obtain export credit insurance.
"Some companies have pulled out of Spain, while others have tailored their offering to meet current consumer demand for less expensive products.
"Selling the largest size of langoustine in Spain is becoming increasingly difficult. We are assisting companies to look at new and emerging markets in Asia as another export option."
In the West Highlands, fishermen are already developing a new strategy which will soon see whole fresh langoustines – a type of lobster – on the shelves of UK supermarkets for the first time. But the deepening eurozone crisis has made their enterprise more urgent.
John Hermes, secretary of the Mallaig and North West Fishermen's Association (MNWFA), said: "We have long been concerned about our over-dependence on the southern continental markets of Europe, even before the Eurozone crisis.
"We send langoustines, scallops, monkfish, different species.
"There must be around 20 trucks a week from the Highlands and Islands heading to southern Europe with processed and live seafood.
"So we had already started to look for other markets and we formed the Scottish West Coast West Langoustine Co-operative."
The group's managing director, Skye-based Neil Robertson, said fishermen were now looking forward to a deal with Sainsbury's to supply fresh produce to customers nearer home.
He said: "Our goal now is to get the whole fresh langoustine on to supermarket shelves. It is sold abroad but currently is an invisible product here.
"It is not sold in British supermarkets, only in specialist fishmongers."
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