The banning of seafood imports from the EU could have devastating consequences on Scottish fishing communities.
That was the warning from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation last week as Russia retaliated to the West’s clampdown on trade.
Commenting on the situation, Federation chief executive, Bertie Armstrong, said: “Although we have yet to examine the detail of these retaliatory sanctions, we are at this stage extremely concerned about the impact they will have on our mackerel fleet. We recognise that this is a serious geopolitical issue, but the downstream impact will hit a number of business sectors including Scottish fishing.
“Russia is a very important export market for Scottish mackerel, and the denial of access would have extremely serious implications for both mackerel fishermen and the onshore processing sector,” he said.
He continued: “We will, of course, be keeping in close contact with the Scottish and UK Governments to monitor the situation as it develops. The solution to this international dispute is for Russia to come to the negotiating table.”
It is estimated that exports of frozen pelagic fish to Russia is worth £17 million each year.
The sanctions, which were enforced with immediate effect, are set to have a major impact on the Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Lerwick pelagic fleets which consider Russia to be one of their biggest markets.
It is understood at least one Peterhead processor was affected at the weekend.
Lunar Freezing was due to ship herring to Russia yesterday (Monday), but had to cancel due to the sanctions.
Sinclair Bank, general manager of Lunar Freezing said that the import ban would have a big impact on business.
He added the firm had £200,000 of herring sitting in St. Petersburg but didn’t know if it would go through or even if it would be paid for.