Fish Processing Industry

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:51 pm on 2nd July 1999.

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Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour 12:51 pm, 2nd July 1999

I, too, welcome the opportunity to focus on an industry that is a major provider of jobs in my constituency and elsewhere. The fish-catching sector attracts a good deal of public attention but, in providing jobs onshore, jobs for women and part-time jobs for lone parents who want to work-as well as in maintaining a range of skills in a traditional industry that provides a vital link in the food chain-the fish processing sector demands equal attention and status.

When we talk to industry leaders, such as those from Aberdeen who are with us today, we must listen to their concerns about the implementation of the directive. Although I take Mr Robson's point, I think that there is particular concern in the north of Scotland, because of the scale and expense of the proposed plant. The population factor means that fewer people and firms would pay for the plant that we need. That is why so many of the firms in the Aberdeen area face difficulties.

It is clear that my colleagues in Aberdeen City Council have been listening to the concerns that have been raised. I would like to congratulate the council and the Aberdeen Fish Curers and Merchants Association on working together on a practical scheme-the first in Scotland-to implement the regulations at a price that the industry can afford.

Will the minister confirm that the Aberdeen harbour scheme for trade effluent treatment that was announced last weekend will meet the requirement of the European regulations and so have the support and approval of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency? Will the ministerial team acknowledge that the fish processing industry is not opposed to the environmental standards that we have agreed with our European partners?

The industry recognises that those standards must be implemented; indeed, it seeks to meet those standards. Will the minister consider what support can be given to upgrade the industry's premises in order to reduce the cost of trade effluent treatment, whoever provides it? The more effective the industry is in dealing with its own effluent-other industries, such as the meat industry, have the same problem-the less it will be charged, either by the Aberdeen harbour scheme or by NOSWA, to deal with it.

It would be too easy to say that if Europe sets the standard it must foot the bill. However, we should consider what resources we can bring to the industry, either from our reserves or from Europe, to allow the fish processing industry to raise the standards of water treatment.