BEWILDERED Scots fishermen have discovered they are funding their Norwegian business rivals.
A row has broken out after it was revealed that Seafish, an industry-funded government body, has splashed out on promoting imported seafood.
The company, which is understood to make more than £1m from Scottish fishermen every year, have advertised recipes which recommend the exclusive use of imported Norwegian products.
And they will even send ten winners of a Fish and Chip shop competition to Scandinavia to learn about the supply of Norwegian fish to British markets.
Scots ministers have admitted that fishermen would be left “bewildered and frustrated” after discovering they are “paying to promote” their Norwegian rivals.
Environment secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Many in Scotland are bewildered and frustrated that the opportunity isn’t taken to promote local, fresh fish.”
Aberdeenshire councillor Charles Buchan, chairman of the local authority’s fisheries committee added: “The levy is applied – you can’t refuse it. Scottish fishermen think it should be for the benefit of them.
“A lot of Scottish skippers feel they’re paying to promote Norwegian fish and I feel really sorry for them.”
Peterhead fishermen and TV personality Jimmy Buchan said: “Funds generated from the sale of fish caught and landed in Scotland should be reinvested here for long-term sustainable growth where all Scottish stakeholders can benefit.”
Paul Williams, chief executive of Seafish, said that the group’s promotion efforts were beneficial for both countries.
He said: “We organise trips to both the north-east of Scotland and Norway for our winners to learn about the supply chain with both sides getting opportunities to promote their products.
“Inevitably the National Fish and Chip Awards are the focus of attention and the event can find itself in the centre of a debate about who benefits most – the UK fishing fleet or suppliers of white fish from abroad.
“The answer is straightforward – it is both. By promoting the whole fish and chip sector, Seafish can give room to both the fresh and frozen message within our campaign.”