A new £7.75 million funding package has been launched to support fishermen, seafood businesses and ports and harbours threatened by the ongoing effects of Covid-19 and Brexit.
The Scottish Government said the extra financial resources were another example of it stepping in to help the seafood industry survive the challenges.
There is £6.45m of new cash going into the Seafood Producers’ Resilience Fund, launched last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It provides support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, as well as trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the EU and lost access to domestic food markets as a result of Covid-19.
The new funding package also includes £1m to support the investment plans of ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees.
Up to £300,000 is being made available to assist the welfare and emergency support activities of the Fishermen’s Mission “in recognition of the hardship facing people working in the sector at this time”.
Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “In the absence of any further clarity on resilience funding from the UK Government, we are stepping in to support the industry and coastal communities across Scotland and ensuring we meet the emergency needs of crews by providing welfare support through the Fishermen’s Mission.
“In addition to this funding, last week we also supported calls for a new dedicated task force and announced funding for two new experts to help businesses navigate the new processes and requirements.”
Mr Ewing added: “Both shellfish and trout businesses who have faced losses due to Covid-19 hospitality closures across Europe are now losing products or facing additional costs due to border disruption and new non-tariff barriers.
“It’s not just exporting – we know this has serious knock-on effects that ripple right through the supply chain, from boats struggling to land at ports to not being able to sell their catch.
“The fund for shellfish and trout businesses will help the sector survive the ongoing loss of domestic sales due to Covid-19 and the current immediate challenges of Brexit, giving them some breathing space and allowing businesses to make the changes they need to adapt to the new, tougher, trading realities.”
“It’s not just exporting – we know this has serious knock-on effects that ripple right through the supply chain.”
Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced a £23m compensation scheme for the seafood industry after dozens of seafood lorries from all over the UK descended on London to make the industry’s anger over export delays known.
The Treasury later confirmed Scottish businesses would be able to claim up to £100,000 in compensation for sales lost due to export chaos in January, when shipments of fresh fish and seafood were severely disrupted by new customs checks.
Welcoming the latest Scottish Government cash, Donna Fordyce, chief executive of trade body Seafood Scotland, said Holyrood had listened to industry pleas for support and “really stepped up by offering such a comprehensive package”.
Ms Fordyce added: “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 (resilience) fund set to reopen as early as next week, we’re confident businesses will start to see the support they need very soon.”
Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said: “We must ensure those worst-impacted are supported in what is a very challenging time for the industry.”