The north-east’s status as a world-class centre for seafood processing has been boosted with the launch of a new quality management system to produce a certified Seafood Processor Standard.
The Scottish Seafood Association launched the new system in Peterhead on Thursday, with local processor John H. Milne Fish, the first to sign up to the scheme, which is part-funded by Aberdeenshire Council and the business.
The standard will give accreditation to the business as well as train and certify the various skilled and semi-skilled employees to Seafish/REHIS certification level.
Over the next six months the pilot scheme will see ten Aberdeenshire companies certified.
Scottish Seafood Association technical consultant, Michael Sim, will deliver the programme for SSA members and will assist each company to prepare and meet the standard required.
Derek McDonald, industry support executive and Suzanne Robertson, business development executive, attended the launch along with council leader Councillor Jim Gifford and Peterhead councillor Dianne Beagrie.
Jimmy Buchan, executive officer for the Scottish Seafood Associaton, said: “I am delighted with the level of support coming from Aberdeenshire Council for our processing sector which will assist and improve the training and certification of employees as well as accreditation for our members.
“This is a huge step forward for small and medium-sized seafood processors which will give long-term benefits as the standard becomes globally recognised for quality seafood.
“The Scottish Seafood Association has a membership of 80 companies across Scotland with our aim to roll this standard out across all members in the coming year,” he added.
Councillor Gifford said the council had been pleased to contribute financially to help support the new initiative, which in turn supports the fishing industry.
“Against a background of large-scale infrastructure investment in the ports of Peterhead and Fraserburgh, and still further investment in new fishing vessels to harvest the catch, it is vital that we also invest in the people, skills and factories required to process it,” he said.
“This pioneering pilot project aims to raise the profile of the seafood processing sector and support future business growth by enabling the sector to take the first step towards achieving quality accreditation status.
“The new standard will help to support our fisheries industry and we are pleased to be able to assist with this.”
Councillor Beagrie added: “It’s fantastic to see such a pioneering new scheme being created to promote the fishing industry nationally by the Scottish Seafood Association supported by Aberdeenshire Council.”
Mr Buchan said that ten companies had already signed up to the project in Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Sandend, with other companies making serious inquires.
He said: “This is about our processors producing top quality seafood - every time.
“This is great timing - new opportunities may be around the corner and the processing sector is outward looking in preparing today, for a new tomorrow.”