The Scottish Government has pledged funding of £1.8m to help seafood businesses sell to markets in the UK and overseas.
The initiative is intended to help the sector recover from the twin impacts of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. It was announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon on a visit to processors Joseph Robertson in Aberdeen.
The funding, managed by trade marketing body Seafood Scotland, will support businesses to access new markets within the UK and abroad, including campaigns in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
The work will also include developing a strategy to encourage sustainability and improve quality assurance and accreditation of seafood produce.
Seafood Scotland hopes that, as major international trade events begin again, together with a number of virtual online events, these platforms will enable it to engage with buyers to experience first-hand the broad range of seafood available.
In Scotland, “buy local, support local” campaigns will also encourage growth in the domestic market, capitalising on rising demand for seafood provenance and quality.
As the hospitality industry continues to re-open, Seafood Scotland will form close links with leading chefs, working alongside them to make Scottish seafood a prized, premium item on menus across the globe.
Mairi Gougeon said: “The last 16 months have been devastating for businesses in the seafood sector who have faced significant losses due to hospitality closures from Covid-19 and a raft of new trade barriers and bureaucracy following Brexit.
“The seafood sector is a crucial part of our rural economy, supporting jobs in coastal communities and our priority has been to protect people’s livelihoods.
“While we continue to work to resolve some of the export issues the sector faces, this new funding will help the sector’s longer term recovery from these recent challenges.
“The funding for Seafood Scotland will help businesses explore new markets, giving them the support to promote their products across the UK and further afield.”
Donna Fordyce, Chief Executive of Seafood Scotland commented: “The Scottish seafood supply chain is now firmly in recovery mode, with ambitious plans to access new markets and to grow existing trade relationships.
“Our role is to support them on this journey, opening doors to new opportunities, and to spread the word about the quality of our produce, which is prized the world over.”