Investing in the Blue Economy
By Lucy Ashton
A new round of funding to support fishing businesses and wider marine organisations in coastal communities is open for applications.
Now in its second year, the Marine Fund Scotland has an overall budget of up to £14 million.
It was introduced by the Scottish Government to replace the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which UK businesses no longer have access to following Brexit.
Marine Fund Scotland will support projects which contribute to innovative and sustainable marine sectors, reduce carbon emissions and support coastal communities. It will reflect Scotland’s Blue Economy Vision, which was published earlier this year.
Helping to improve safety standards will also be a key aim, including individual fishers upskilling their safety training.
Announcing the second year of the Fund at the Skipper Expo in Aberdeen, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Building on the success of the first year of the Marine Fund Scotland, the renewed focus of the Fund this year will be on supporting our ambitions set out in the Blue Economy Vision.
“It highlights our commitment to investing in Scotland’s seafood and wider marine sectors and the communities which rely on them, supporting jobs and livelihoods while helping to protect the marine environment.
“The funding we have will be used to deliver maximum effect, but we will also continue to press the UK Government to respect the devolution of marine funding and to recognise the size and importance of Scotland’s marine sectors.”
Awards from the first year of the Marine Fund Scotland included supporting young fishers to purchase their first vessels, the purchase of safety equipment, enhancing gear selectivity and sustainable fishing practices, data collection, marine litter collection, marine research, and assistance to the seafood processing and aquaculture sectors, including to implement more sustainable practices.
Meanwhile, in 2022-23 the funding is made up of a competitive grant fund and funding for key strategic work, including projects delivering wider benefits for the marine sectors.
Marine Fund Scotland is designed to sit alongside, but is distinct from, other funds including the Nature Restoration Fund and the Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF).
Applicants to the Marine Fund Scotland will be asked, where relevant, to demonstrate that they understand the impact of their project on nature and biodiversity, and are taking appropriate steps to reduce or mitigate any negative impacts and enhance any positive impacts relative to their current position.