Scotland’s “blue economy” is set to lose out under the new funding regime brought in to replace support from the European Union, according to the Scottish government. Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the £14m annual budget allocated to Marine Fund Scotland (MFS) falls short of the £62m which would have been available under EU funding.
The MFS replaces the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), following the UK’s exit from the EU. The EMFF supported the sustainable growth of the marine economy in coastal communities, in sectors such as fishing, aquaculture and seafood processing, and continues to operate in EU member states.
Ewing said: “Based on the EMFF budget for 2021-2027, and on our sea area alone, an equitable and evidence-based funding share would be £62m per annum. We have not received that despite the UK government promising to match EU funding. Rest assured, we will continue to press the UK government to make good on those pledges as this reduced funding will inevitably limit what we are able to achieve for our fishers and coastal communities.”
He added: “The UK government must also deliver on its promise to provide £100m to support fishing industry innovation and modernisation, with an equitable share for the Scottish catching and processing sectors.
“Anything less would effectively mean Scottish businesses and coastal communities being short-changed; adding insult to the injury of new trade barriers arising from the Brexit deal.”
The EMFF has committed over £96m to coastal communities across Scotland since it opened in 2016. It is now closed for new applications, but will continue paying grants until 2023.
Applications for grants from the new MFS must cover projects to be completed by 31 March 2022. Expressions of interest are now being invited and more information on how to apply is available via the Scottish government’s website.