A new £7.75 million funding package will offer support to fishermen, seafood businesses and ports and harbours in Scotland hit by the ongoing effects of Covid-19 and Brexit. The measures announced by the Scottish Government have been welcomed.
The package includes £6.45 million for the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund which will provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers who have faced challenges exporting to the EU and have lost access to domestic food markets as a result of Covid-19.
£1 million is to be made available to support the investment plans of ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees.
“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,” said Donna Fordyce, Chief Executive at Seafood Scotland.
“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 British Ports Association’s Fishing Ports Group has also welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement.
“This support is very welcome and will help Scottish Fishing Ports that have seen both landings and prices fall due to covid and now additional non-tariff barriers to key export markets,” said Mark Simmonds, Director of Policy at the British Ports Association.
“It means that some capital projects that might have been at risk due to the volatility may now still be able to go ahead.”
The British Ports Association’s Fishing Ports Group, which represents the overwhelming majority of fishing ports in the UK including all of the top 20 ports for landings, wrote to UK Ministers in January setting out a series of proposals to urgently address some of the issues affecting seafood exports.
“We are pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has heard this message and launched this package of support,” he said.
“We hope that other parts of the UK will now follow and ensure that harbours are not overlooked in any seafood sector support schemes. Most seafood landed in the UK is exported and after one of the most difficult years in memory for fishing ports the last thing we need are persistent new barriers to trade undermining our competitiveness.”
Full details of the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund will be available on the Marine Scotland section of the Scottish Government website from Friday 5th February.