Almost 600 jobs in Scotland’s £1 billion fish industry will be safeguarded this week.

Fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham and SDI chief executive and chief operating officer of Scottish Enterprise Lena Wilson will be at the world’s largest seafood show in Brussels tomorrow to fly the flag for Scottish produce.

And while there they will announce that 39 companies are to share £2.9 million from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

As well as safeguarding 597 jobs the investment will also create a further 55.

The successful projects are spread across the fishing, processing and aquaculture sectors, which together are worth £1 billion to the Scottish economy.

Ahead of the Brussels visit, Ms Cunningham said: ;Scotland is rightly renowned around the world for the quality of its fish and shellfish. The fishing, processing and aquaculture sectors support thousands of jobs directly and indirectly, often in rural and coastal communities, and make a huge contribution to our economy. In these difficult times it is vital we ensure they have a sustainable and profitable future.

‘This money will enable companies to invest in new technology and markets and allowing them to plan for the future. The Scottish government remains determined to do all it can maximise jobs, invest in business and ensure our economy is well-positioned for recovery.’

As well as being used to target additional consumers, wholesalers, retailers and restaurants in France, the money will be used to break into new markets in other European countries.

Ms Wilson said: ‘Scotland’s reputation for quality seafood is world renowned and today’s announcement is a very welcome boost to the industry. The investment reflects the strength and depth of the Scottish seafood sector and will further support the efforts of SDI and Scottish companies to reach out and trade in the international markets.”

Ministers will also use their attendance at this year’s European Seafood Exposition to announce a new push to get more consumers in Scotland eating fish, highlighting its value as well as the many health benefits.

By encouraging more people to eat their recommended weekly intake of fish, the Scottish government aims to provide a further boost to the fishing industry.

Mr Lochhead said: ‘Scottish fish is harvested sustainably from one of the most spectacular marine environments anywhere in the world and by eating just two or more portions of fish a week consumers are also getting a major health boost. With over 60 species caught off Scotland’s coast people are spoilt for choice and, what’s more, fish offers real value for money.’