The trade body for Scottish salmon has written to the Conservative leadership candidates to warn of the impact that labour shortages are making to the sector.
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will travel to Scotland this week ahead of the leadership hustings in Perth on Tuesday.
In a letter to both candidates, Salmon Scotland has outlined the need for government action to support the sector’s growth.
They have stated that despite a growing worldwide demand for the high-protein fish, the labour pool has shrunk in recent years with many key workers returning to eastern Europe post-Brexit.
Farm-raised salmon is the UK’s biggest food export, supporting over 12,000 jobs, many in rural and isolated parts of the country.
Among the suggestions made by the trade body is a call for a change in the definition of a key worker, as well as changes to the salary cap level.
The letter to Truss and Sunak was sent by the chief executive of Salmon Scotland, Tavish Scott.
“Our businesses are vital to the economic performance of the UK – not only in economically fragile coastal and rural areas, but across the length and breadth of the country in processing, engineering, science and technology industries,” he wrote.
“Labour shortages in our processing businesses are acute. We would urge you to embrace a more enlightened approach to the movement of labour into the UK so as to assist business.
“Steps could include a change to key worker definitions, changes to the salary cap level and a broader public signal that the UK is open to people and thus to business.
“No change to the current UK Government approach and the attitude in particular of the Home Office is a clear threat to business competitiveness against our main international competitor
“We would urge a more pragmatic and business friendly approach.”
Scott called for a “pragmatic approach” to be taken by the UK Government in negotiations with the EU over access to European markets.
He added: “No UK export business needs a trade war or even any such suggestion between the UK and the EU.
“We would urge you to deploy a serious, pragmatic approach to these negotiations with a clear focus on the nation’s export businesses who depend on a positive, professional relationship with France and the other countries of the EU.”
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