Ken’s Update June 2020



From Ken Watmough

In category - Members News - News

June 21, 2020

Welcome Dear Reader,

                                      Who would have thought as we started a new decade, having left 2019, a year amongst others, constantly dogged with the over-exposure to the machinations and bickering about Brexit. Now, in  Mid June as I prepare this current newsletter, I am drawn to what  I said in my first newsletter of 2020, and how we were all so fed up with what had been going on. I’m sure so many of you felt the same as I did. Yet the prospect of starting a new year and setting off into the new decade held, I’m sure, a feeling of a new beginning. A time to plan new ideas, to make certain trading changes, to improve the service to our loyal customers making them feel really special. Under normal circumstances all these things would take a little time to be planned throughout the year, but this was not to happen. A dreadful virus had been discovered in China and this began to spread rapidly across the world with such speed that many countries were totally unprepared for such a pandemic, UK included. 

                                     Mind you, back in December whilst planning the content of the first 2020 newsletter I was aware of an outbreak of some form of illness in a place called Wuhan  somewhere in China, this place was unknown to me as it was to so many others, but we all soon realised that there was a virus and it was coming from there and spreading rapidly across the world. 

                                  The city of Wuhan is the largest city in central China and has a population of 11million, the same total as the population of Greece, so this gives you some idea of how difficult it would be to contain the virus, certainly not too easy, which we in the UK soon discovered. Yet as the virus spread, each country introduced their own methods of protecting their people, in many cases a total closure of their borders, here I think that the UK was too slow in taking action. Credit must  be given to Greece, who took heed of the World Health Organisation’s recommendations and closed their borders on 3rd March, and now having got through all that was happening there, it has recorded a death toll of 175, some achievement for the poorest nation in Europe.     

                               The UK government on 23rd March took the decision to put the country into a state of lockdown and restrict shopping to only pharmacies and shops for essential food, and it was at this stage traders had to introduce a planned process of shopping in queues, shoppers keeping at least 2 metres apart. Very difficult to start with but it was working.

                             As fishmongers we are very resourceful, and we have also had to adapt, and to change how we trade. Many having lost very valuable sources of income as the suppliers to hotels and restaurants, of course these had to close down as part of the national lockdown. Most people were in lockdown and unable to get to the shops. It is very encouraging to learn that so many of our members have introduced a home delivery service, also providing on-line ordering facility being used by so many, and so valuable.

                       The changes that are taking place are not quite what I had envisaged in my first 2020 newsletter, but it does show that we as traditional fishmongers can still play an important part of the retail sector, and continue to provide such a valuable service to our customers. 

Keep up the good work. 

    As you know the UK left the EU on 31st December 2019, but even with all that’s going on during this dreadful pandemic there’s still much being done to set up a trade agreement between UK and the EU. The transitionary period ends on 31st December 2020, and it’s during this time leading up to that date that an agreement needs to be reached with the EU.  Until an agreement is concluded the UK is still in the Customs Union and the Single Market, and still paying, but as you know the   UK does not have a place in the EU parliament.

    The diplomat David Frost leads the negotiation on behalf of the UK and he has faced very stiff opposition from Michel Barnier,  who was not ‘’ accepting the reality’’ that Britain will be cutting its ties at the end of the year. Mr Barnier has rejected the UK proposals for annual quotas, he says EU fishermen needed ‘’predictability’’ in the form of continued ‘’status quo’’ access to UK fishing grounds after Brexit. The status quo would mean that the EU would still control UK fishing within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). that is not going to happen.

    On the 1st January 2021 the UK will become a ‘’coastal state’’, which means the granting of access and quota to UK fishing grounds will be done in the UK and not in Brussels, something Mr Barnier does not like: poor thing.

     As most of you know Scottish farmed salmon along with Scottish seafood shares a very important place in providing fresh products to the market place. Of course during this pandemic period many of the outlets for the Scottish suppliers, like hotels and restaurants are in lockdown so now this valuable sector for Scottish products just doesn’t exist meantime. Much is being done by the Scottish Government to help business to survive the financial impact of Covid-19. 

   Yet even with all the problems this virus throws up many businesses are already looking with some confidence to the future. One such company is Scottish Sea Farms who has invested £1.9million in a new workboat, named Fair Isle, as its latest weapon against fish disease. Fair Isle will be used for preventative veterinary treatment targeting gill health problems In particular. This disease is considered to be the biggest challenges facing salmon producers globally and recognised by Scotland’s 10 year Farmed Fish Framework as a priority area for action. 

The managing director of SSF Jim Gallagher said. ‘’The covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to safeguard the supply and flow of fresh, nutritious food around the world, and we remain committed to investing in the areas, activities and infrastructures that will ensure our farming approaches are fit for the future’’.

    From this type of investment you can see there’s a very positive commitment for the future in this sector of the Salmon farming industry.

  Now for something completely different: Mackie’s in Aberdeenshire, well known for their brand of ice cream, and also for their tattie crisps  have launched  ‘’the world’s first’’ haggis, neeps and tatties flavoured crisps for fans of Scotland’s national dish.

  Mackie’s Crisps has taken inspiration from Scotland’s national bard  Robert Burns, to recreate the flavours of the traditional meal served up at Burn’s Suppers to celebrate his birthday each year on 25th January.

The company have done a limited production run of 150,000 bags to test the market, and advise that the crisps are suitable for non-meat eaters using natural flavourings and high oleic sunflower oil, making them an ideal snack for both vegan and vegetarians.

 I saw the TV program of Greg Wallace ‘’Inside the Factory’, and the consumption of crisps have shot up since we went into lockdown, most popular flavour was cheese and onion.

   I wonder how ‘’smoked haddock’’ flavour would do, I might suggest it to Mackie’ Crisps. Hey ho!

Ken Watmough

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