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Seafood trade chief says new cash for the sector will give it ‘a much-needed sticking plaster’

Donna Fordyce, head of Seafood Scotland
Donna Fordyce, head of Seafood Scotland

Boris Johnson’s £23 million pledge to support the Scottish seafood industry is a “ray of light” for some struggling firms, an industry boss has said.

But Donna Fordyce, chief executive of trade body Seafood Scotland also warned larger companies and smaller shellfish boats are still “vulnerable” after Brexit caused red tape chaos for exporters.

The prime minister confirmed his funding commitment on Monday after dozens of seafood lorries staged a protest in central London.

Ms Fordyce said:  “After almost three weeks of voicing their concerns and frustrations, we welcome the fact that the Scottish seafood sector has been heard and action is being taken.

“While we await the full detail of the package, we know there will be questions around the extent to which it supports the entire supply chain, from fleet to export.

“As we currently understand it, the deal offers crucial short-term assistance and includes much to be welcomed, particularly the £23m of new funding.

“It is also reassuring to see the processing sector is set to be included in future support packages.

“This will offer a ray of light to some small and medium-sized companies that have experienced crippling losses over the past few weeks.

“However, larger companies and smaller shellfish boats are still vulnerable and will be hoping they can access support too.”

‘Period of grace’

She added: “Money will offer a much-needed sticking plaster covering the losses over the last few weeks.

“But to completely staunch the wound the sector still needs a period of grace during which the systems must be overhauled so they are fit for purpose.”

Hailing the PM’s cash offer as “a step in the right direction”, Ms Fordyce added:  “We will continue to work with industry, partners and government to ensure the sector gets the proactive support it so desperately needs.”

Larger companies and smaller shellfish boats are still vulnerable and will be hoping they can access support too.

The governments in Edinburgh and London are blaming each other for a log-jam of seafood lorries – due to red tape – at export distribution facilities in central Scotland.

IT problems on both sides of the Channel have also delayed Scottish exports to key markets in Europe.

One seafood firm, Aberdeen-based John Ross Jr, has accused the UK Government of “gross incompetence“.

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