North-east takes lion’s share of £8m fishing boost

The north-east has netted a £4million-plus boost to the economy in the latest round of EU and Scottish Government fisheries funding.

A total pot worth £8million supporting 41 projects was announced by Fishing Minister Fergus Ewing on a visit to Shetland yesterday.

More than £6million is from the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund, with the government chipping in about £1.7million and other sources contributing the rest.

Well over half the total is destined for the north-east, home to a large chunk of the UK fishing industry.

One of the biggest grants – worth nearly £1.2million – was for Peterhead firm Box Pool Solutions, which will use the cash for a new fish box washing facility and equipment.

SFF Services – the commercial arm of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation – was awarded nearly £1.9million to help pay for an independent on-board observer scheme.

North-east fish processor Joseph Robertson (Aberdeen) received nearly £553,000 for a building upgrade and new equipment.

The Fishing for Litter project, in which Scottish boats have already hauled in more than 1,000 tonnes of rubbish from the sea, got nearly £312,000.

Elsewhere in Scotland, Ross-shire firms Wester Ross Fisheries and Bannerman Seafoods received more than £951,000 and £118,000 respectively to support their growth.

And there was £720,000 for Scrabster Harbour Trust’s replacement ice plant project.

Shetland-based quality assurance specialist SSQC got nearly £700,000 to support its quantative biotoxin testing programme.

Blueshell Mussels and QA Fish were awarded grants totalling more than £835,000 as part of a major cash boost for Shetland, while Western Isles firm Kallin Shellfish got nearly £99,000 towards a factory extension.

Banff and Buchan SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford said: “Scotland’s fishing industry is a vital part of our north-east economy.

“I’m glad to see numerous local businesses benefiting from this investment in the sustainability of the fishing sector.”

Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson added: “Aberdeenshire businesses will benefit once again from investment by the EU and Scottish Government.

“It is gratifying to see this sector given a helping hand to boost growth and help develop sustainability at a time when there is uncertainty over the impact Brexit will have on the fishing industry.

Mr Ewing hailed an £11,500 grant to Shetland Fishermen’s Association for the purchase of vital safety equipment as a potential lifesaver.

On the overall payouts, the minister said: “This £8million investment will encourage growth and protect jobs in the sea fisheries and aquaculture industry by allowing businesses to upgrade technology and buy new equipment.

“This is just one example of why EU funding is so important as it is helping the sea fisheries sector improve the quality of its products and enabling them to develop more environmentally friendly methods.”