Fish will be promoted to shoppers as great value for money, delivering major health benefits as well as giving a much-needed boost to Scotland's fishing and fish-farming sectors.
Despite being one of Europe's primary fishing nations, Scotland consumes much less fish than other countries. On average, consumers in Spain, Portugal and Norway eat twice as much fish as Scots.
Recent figures also show a dip in fish consumption and that consumers are eating considerably less than their recommended two portions of fish a week.
The plans were unveiled by Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead at the 'Fishing 2009' Expo in Glasgow last week.
The key points are:
- Promotional work by Seafish, which will work with major retailers, fishmongers and independent retailers to raise consumer awareness of the health benefits of eating fish
- A Scotland-wide competition to find the country's best young seafood chef
- A new web portal to give consumers a single source of advice on buying and eating Scottish fish, including recipe ideas
- Seafood promotions at public events, including the Taste Festival in Edinburgh
Mr Lochhead said: "Scottish fish is harvested sustainably from one of the most spectacular marine environments anywhere in the world. Over 60 species are caught off our coastline yet we lag behind countries such as Latvia, Malta and Finland when it comes to fish consumption levels.
"Fish is a natural wonder food, packed with healthy essentials such as protein, minerals and vitamins. Oily fish in particular is rich in omega 3 which has been shown to help protect against coronary heart disease.
"By eating at least two portions of fish a week consumers are getting a major health boost. They're spoilt for choice and, what's more, eating more fish not only delivers real value for money it also gives a huge boost to our fishermen who work so hard to land quality produce day in, day out.
"In partnership with other major organisations we'll be ensuring as many consumers as possible get this message over the coming weeks and months."
The push to get more consumers eating Scottish seafood is supported by: Scotland Food and Drink, the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Seafish and Seafood Scotland.
Stephen Cameron, Managing Director of the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group, said: "Scottish Shellfish welcomes this new initiative aimed at boosting the consumption of seafood.
"Many consumers are still unsure about preparing seafood when in fact it is probably the easiest foodstuff of all to cook. We have long been promoting the fact that Scottish mussels and oysters are incredibly nutritious and tasty and we are sure this new campaign will help to underline that message.
"Over the coming year, Scottish Shellfish will be participating in this new promotional campaign and we are confident that it will help in improving the diet of consumers and open their eyes to the vast array of quality Scottish seafood that is available."
In addition to promoting seafood at home, efforts will continue to help the catching and processing sectors push into new international markets.
Over 60 different species are landed around Scotland's 4,000 kilometres of coastline and Scotland's fishing industry is leading the way in sustainable practices, with west coast langoustines the latest Scottish stock to receive Marine Conservation Society accreditation.
Food Standard Agency (FSA) advises that people should eat at least two portions (280g) of fish a week including one portion of oily fish. Promotion of this advice is in line with Scottish Government policy.
Figures for the period 2005-07 show that on average people in Scotland are eating 155g of fish a week. Other figures show that across the UK fish consumption fell from 185g in 2006 to 178g in 2007.
Seafish, the authority on seafood, was founded in 1981 by an act of parliament and supports the seafood industry for a sustainable, profitable future. It's services range from research and development, economic consulting, market research and training and accreditation through to account management and legislative advice for the seafood industry.
The European Fisheries Fund (EFF) is worth around £50 million to Scotland's fishing, processing and aquaculture sectors.
The Scottish fishing, processing and aquaculture sectors are together worth around £1 billion to the Scottish economy.