Aquaculture businesses affected by the collapse of international markets due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can apply to cover the costs of maintaining unsold stock through a new £1.25 million fund.
The scheme, which is being funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, will support businesses by compensating for the costs of transport, processing and cold storage for salmon, trout and shellfish until the end of 2020.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
‘This has been a challenging time for the aquaculture sector with businesses unable to bring products to market but continuing to face high operational costs.
‘This new funding, which will provide financial support for cold storing salmon, trout and shellfish, will mean businesses will be able to cover some of the additional costs they have faced trying to preserve stock during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Farmed salmon is Scotland’s most important food product and valuable food export and we want to support the sector through these challenging times.’
Julie Hesketh-Laird, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), said:
‘Our farmers have worked tirelessly through this lockdown period to keep farms running, to protect the health and welfare of their workers and salmon and to maintain supplies to customers.
‘There has been innovation by farmers in finding new markets because of the drop in export demand due to COVID-19 restrictions. But there is still a need for some of them for temporary storage, until overseas markets start to normalise again. We are delighted that the Scottish Government has managed to access European funds to help with this process.’
Stephen Cameron, Managing Director at the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group, said:
‘At a time when markets are uncertain, due to COVID-19, the availability of this funding will keep farms and factories busy and allow flexibility in how we manage our stock and our workforce. We are extremely appreciative of the ongoing hard work and support from the Scottish Government and, in particular, the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing.’
Hamish Macdonnell of the SSPO told Fish Farmer that he was really pleased that the organisation had been able to deliver for its members a scheme that was tightly focussed and that will deliver support in a solid and practical way.