By Rory Murphy
A new £7.75 million funding package will offer support to fishermen, seafood businesses and ports and harbours threatened by the ongoing effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU Exit.
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 issues exporting to the EU and have lost access to domestic food markets as a result of COVID-19
- £1 million to be made available to support the investment plans of ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees
- up to £300,000 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, right, 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.
“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 ripples 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.”
Meanwhile, 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.
Funding for new seafood experts to help businesses navigate paperwork was announced by the Rural Economy Secretary last week.
The Scottish Government’s Communities Recovery Fund for community groups, charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations impacted by COVID-19 and suffering from hardship closes to applications on Friday 12th February.
The UK Government announced a compensation scheme on Tuesday 19th January but has still to set out eligibility detail.
The Scottish seafood industry is highly reliant on exports, particularly to the EU. In 2019, seafood accounted for 57% of Scotland’s overall food exports and had a value of approximately £1.02 billion.
The EU is Scotland’s most significant overseas export market for seafood products, accounting for around three-quarters (76%) of Scottish seafood exports in 2019, and worth £777m. Scotland is a net exporter of seafood to the EU, with a trade surplus of £615m in 2019.
Fishing boats tied up at the busy Argyllshire fishing port of Oban. Picture by Bill Heaney