Fifty projects which will create dozens of jobs and safeguard hundreds more in Scotland’s fishing, processing and aquaculture sectors will benefit from grants totalling more than £5.8 million.

Successful projects from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) include making vessels more fuel efficient, improving quality in the processing sector and trialling a New Zealand system of mussel farming.

Following the recent announcement of £5.25 million to redevelop Peterhead harbour, today’s announcement brings the total public investment for the Scottish industry for 2009 to more than £11 million.

Fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said: ‘Combined, our fishing, processing and aquaculture sectors are worth more than £1 billion to the Scottish economy, and in these difficult times it is vital that we ensure they have a sustainable and profitable future.

‘I have been hugely impressed by the quality of application we received, and the level of innovation and business acumen on display.

‘I am therefore very pleased to be able invest in the successful projects which will strengthen businesses and support our rural and coastal communities.

‘This funding will go towards the modernisation of a number of vessels based in our ports, which will include improving catch quality and making some of them more fuel efficient.

‘The processing sector will also be able to expand through additional technology being put in place and a fish farm in Mull will be able to trial a new means of farming mussels, which could have significant benefits for Scottish aquaculture.

‘Together with the massive investment we gave to Peterhead Port Authority earlier this month, today’s announcement should be seen as an enormous vote of confidence in our fishermen and workers in the wider fisheries sector.’

Alexander McLean, owner of the Fraserburgh-registered Ocean Harvest III, said: ‘We are delighted that we have been successful in our application. Our vessel is a good vessel but a relatively old vessel. The changes we intend to make will bring everything bang up to date allowing us to land a prime product to market, that makes such a difference nowadays. The additional work to the propeller and drive system will reduce our fuel consumption and hence our costs substantially; we will spend less and make more. That has to be the way ahead.’

Alan Addison, skipper of the Berwick-registered Serenity, said: ‘I am delighted to hear that my son and I have been successful in our grant application. The grant was easy to apply for and the fuel efficiencies created by upgrading our propeller have been truly amazing. The vessel is using, on average, 25 per cent less fuel while fishing, with similar savings steaming to and from the fishing grounds.’