The Scottish government has announced a new funding package to help beleaguered producers in the seafood sector. The £7.75m funding package is targeted at shellfish catchers and producers, ports and harbours and the Fisherman’s Mission, which provides welfare for people in the industry.
The package has been introduced in response to the twin challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulties many exporters have faced following the end of the Brexit transition period.
The initiative includes £6.45m for the Seafood Producers’ Resilience Fund, which will provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the EU and have lost access to domestic food markets as a result of the pandemic.
It also includes £1m to support the investment plans of ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees, and up to £300,000 for the Fishermen’s Mission.
Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “In the absence of any further clarity on resilience funding from the UK Government we are stepping in to support the industry and coastal communities across Scotland and ensuring we meet the emergency needs of crews by providing welfare support through the Fishermen’s Mission… both shellfish and trout businesses who have faced losses due to COVID-19 hospitality closures across Europe are now losing products or facing additional costs due to border disruption and new non-tariff barriers.
“It’s not just exporting, we know this has serious knock-on effects that ripples right through the supply chain from boats struggling to land at ports to not being able to sell their catch.”
Details of the Resilience Fund will be available on the Marine Scotland website from Friday.
Donna Fordyce, Chief Executive at Seafood Scotland commented: ““The Scottish Government has listened to industry pleas for support over the last four weeks and has really stepped up by offering such a comprehensive package. This will have a tangible impact on the livelihoods of some of the hardest hit in the sector and in some cases could save generations-old businesses from going under. With applications to the fund set to open as early as next week we’re confident that businesses will start to see the support they need very soon.”
The UK government last month announced a £23m compensation package for businesses “who can evidence a genuine loss in exporting fish and shellfish to the EU.”
This is in addition to a UK-wide £100m package of support for the fishing industry announced following the UK-EU trade agreement signed at the end of last year.