Cod Crusader wants Scots to boycott French produce

Fishermen at work in the north sea

Cod Crusader Carol Adams is urging Scots to boycott French produce in a simmering row over fish. She believes consumers should stop buying wine from France's best grape-growing regions, Champagne and Camembert cheese because French retailers are turning their backs on Scottish fish. The row sparked when the Scottish White Fish Producers' Association (SWFPA) claimed French fishers had applied pressure "through political routes" to make sure France's largest retailers only purchased their catch - including fish from Scottish waters - at auction.

SWFPA chief executive Mike Park said: "The genesis of their actions is unclear but understood to be linked to poor returns for a quantity of French fish. "What is clear is the impact their actions will have for Scottish fishermen, with exports of fish to France now reduced to very low levels. "Their actions have a direct impact on Scottish markets, with prices for a number of key species dropping sharply."

Mr Park added: "Scottish waters are fished quite heavily by around 30 large French vessels. "These vessels land their catch into Scottish ports and truck the produce to France. Understandably, and in response to the protectionist measures applied in France, a number of Scottish fishermen are saying this practice must now be brought to a halt."

Ms Adams, from Fraserburgh, who in 2002 teamed up with two friends to launch the Cod Crusaders group to protest against swingeing quota cuts, said: "If they decide to boycott our fish, it's up to us as consumers to boycott their produce." Scottish Seafood Association chief executive Jimmy Buchan said: "We cannot allow this situation to continue unchallenged, or processing and harvesting businesses in Scotland will go to the wall. "This is a clear breach of single market rules and we would expect our governments to confront the French authorities and bring a swift end to the practice."

Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive Elspeth Macdonald said: "We are pressing the case with the UK and Scottish governments, and have been in touch with the French embassy. Hopefully, common sense will prevail and this discriminatory practice can be brought to an end swiftly." North-east MSP Peter Chapman said: "The current mood around Covid-19 has strained relations between our fishermen and the French.

"Local people are afraid for their livelihoods because a big market is being denied them. "This is a time for even tempers, while the UK and Scottish governments calm the waters." David Duguid, MP for Banff and Buchan, added: "The UK Government has been assured there is no formal ban in place.

"We need government and industry on both sides of the Channel to work together to find a solution." French-born Aberdeen city councillor and former SNP MEP Christian Allard said: "There is no boycott. Some choose to buy locally to support their fishermen in the middle of a pandemic.

It's time our retailers get the message and choose Scottish."

David Duguid: Coronavirus putting "huge strain" on sector

(C) Duncan BrownDavid Duguid and Jackson Carlaw

There is no question that the Covid-19 crisis is putting huge strain on our seafood sector. Boats that should be out fishing are tied up in harbours across the north-east. The restaurant, hotel and hospitality market has ground to a halt, while many fish and chip shops remain shuttered.

The last thing the industry needs right now is talk of French boycotts or blockades. I know that Scottish and French representatives have been in discussions on this issue - as I have with Scottish Fisheries leaders, Port Authorities and UK Government Ministers. The backdrop, of course, is the resumption of trade talks between the UK and the EU.

The EU side has made headlines in the past week with demands for a continuation of the status quo on fisheries. But what Michel Barnier and others are failing to grasp is that the UK has already left the EU. There is no precedent, anywhere in the world, for a free trade agreement being dependent on guaranteed access to fishing waters.

Nobody is saying that EU vessels will not have access to UK waters after the end of the transition period in December. But that access, along with quota swaps, must be subject to annual negotiations. That is how every other independent coastal state operates.

The UK should be no different to Norway, Iceland or the Faroes in that regard.

The EU should know by now that Boris Johnson and his negotiating team are not going to budge on this issue.

Cod Crusader wants Scots to boycott French produce

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