SCOTTISH seafood firms were joined by the Rural Economy Secretary as they looked to boost exports at a global event in Brussels.

There were 21 companies in the Scottish delegation at the Seafood Expo Global, with last year’s event bringing an estimated £33 million boost to the country’s seafood industry.

The event, which began on Monday and finishes today, is the world’s largest global marketplace for seafood deals, featuring more than 1850 exhibiting firms from 79 countries.

In addition to the companies on the Scottish pavilion, another 21 firms from Scotland attended independently.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, who met with other political figures at the event, said: “It’s great to have the opportunity to showcase Scotland’s world-famous seafood products to buyers across the globe, at what is the biggest annual event in this industry.

“Scottish seafood exports were worth £944m last year – making a big contribution to a record £6 billion year for food and drink exports.

“That’s largely down to the endeavours of some great Scottish companies who catch, grow and process fantastic Scottish products.

“In spite of the uncertainty being caused by Brexit, our message in Brussels this week is that Scotland is very much still open for business – with the EU and other international markets.”

This year’s expo has featured a record number of meetings with buyers from Singapore, China, Thailand, Japan, North America and from across Europe

Patrick Hughes, head of Seafood Scotland, which co-ordinates the delegation alongside Scottish Development International, said: “In 2017, Scottish seafood exporters added around £176m of new business, some sparked by meetings that take place at the key expos in Brussels, Tokyo and Boston.

“The Scottish shellfish, salmon, whitefish and pelagic producers and growers that invest in coming to Brussels are serious about doing business.

“They have the opportunity to meet influential buyers from all over the world, who are seeking reliable supplies of clean, sustainable and traceable fish and seafood – and Scotland can meet that brief better than most.

“The impact will show in next years’ figures – but put simply, what happens here over three days will have a significant impact on incomes, jobs and local communities across Scotland.”

Susan Beattie, head of food and drink at Scottish Development International, said: “We are actively supporting companies to grow exports, by working with Seafood Scotland and other Scotland Food & Drink partners on our exhibition programme.

“This event is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Scotland’s globally acclaimed seafood products and bring some of our most ambitious exporters together with retail and food-service customers from around the world.”