The Scottish Government has been accused of leaving a group of traditional fishermen “on their own” following a fire that destroyed their livelihoods.
The fire at Cove Harbour caused thousands of pounds worth of damage last month, with many of the boats and equipment written-off.
North East Liam Kerr asked Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing if there was any support the fishermen, who have also recently just lost a long-running legal battle over accessing the harbour.
Mr Ewing wrote back, and said while he was “very saddened” to hear about the disaster, any financial support would be “limited”.
Mr Ewing said: “I was very saddened to hear about the fire, and the destruction it has caused to the boats and equipment stored at Cove Harbour.
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“My deepest sympathies go out to the fishermen and families affected, for whom this is clearly a difficult time.
“Unfortunately, the financial support that the Scottish Government can provide in such circumstances is limited.
“Our primary funding mechanism for the fishing industry, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, is fully committed to sea fisheries measures and is currently closed.
“I would be happy for the fishermen concerned to contact officials directly with any specific requests for advice.
“However, with a police investigation under way, I am unclear what assistance, if any, can be provided.”
Last night, Mr Kerr claimed the fishermen had been “left on their own”.
Mr Kerr said: “I understand fishermen will be pursing claims for their lost vessels, but I highly doubt they will receive any support for the loss of earnings.
“This begs the question as to how many boats would need to be lost, or where they would have to be, to receive more than warm words from Mr Ewing.”
Police are still investigating the deliberate fire, as well as several similar incidents in the area including a blaze that destroyed a crane at Aberdeen Harbour.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This was a shocking incident which has had terrible consequences for people’s livelihoods and the wider local economy.
“We hope the police investigation identifies those responsible and expect the local authority to provide all necessary support and services as required to those affected.”