Latest, potentially final coronavirus fund ups Scottish seafood support to GBP 22.5 million
Large sea fishing vessels operating out of Scotland have been given a further GBP 3.5 million (USD 4.4 million, EUR 4 million) in coronavirus support by the Scottish government, taking the total made available to the seafood industry from new and existing state funds to GBP 22.5 million (USD 28 million, EUR 25.8 million).
According to Scotland’s Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing, the new funding benefits more than 220 Scottish vessels, and that overall, more than 1,000 fishing and aquaculture businesses are now eligible for funding to help them, their crews and staff through this period.
“This package represents the most comprehensive set of measures to support fishing and fish farming anywhere in the U.K,” he said in a statement.
The latest scheme provides capped payments of up to GBP 21,370 (USD 26,601, EUR 24,484) per vessel to businesses with vessels larger than 12 meters that are landing shellfish such as crabs, lobsters, scallops, and langoustines, with the intention that it help them meet fixed costs like insurance. The fund will also provide up to GBP 42,740 (USD 53,201, EUR 48,969) for businesses operating more than one vessel.
Amounts will be graduated by fleet segment and length category, the Scottish government said.
Ewing explained that he has been working closely with the fishing and aquaculture industries since the global outbreak began, and has also listened to calls from businesses who have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight as their markets have shut down in response to vital public health advice.
“Support being provided to businesses operating vessels over 12 meters finalizes the relief we can offer to the sea fishing and aquaculture sectors to mitigate the economic and social impact of COVID-19 having exhausted current transitional funding streams. Discussions with industry will continue as to the impact on future sector spend,” he said. “I would urge the public to play their part in supporting these key contributors to Scotland’s food success story by buying Scottish seafood and fish if they can.”
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and the Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance have welcomed this latest tranche of financial support.
“Most of the Scottish shellfish fleet has been tied up for almost a month now, as restrictions and lockdowns mean restaurant, hospitality and foodservice markets around the world that normally enjoy Scottish seafood, have essentially disappeared,” SFF CEO Elspeth Macdonald said.
Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance’s National Coordinator Elaine Whyte added that the closure of these markets had reduced “much-relied-upon income” for coastal families nationally.
“We've worried greatly about securing some type of emergency assistance for this section of society which had lost the ability to earn a living at sea and provide for their families, many of whom not were not eligible for other forms of current support.
“The support offered will hopefully help save vulnerable businesses which are the backbone of their villages and towns,” she said.
According to Scottish government, over 350 payments totaling GBP 3 million (USD 3.7 million, EUR 3.4 million) have already been made under the initial seafood fishing industry support schemes.
Applications for the seafood processing sector scheme opened on 13 April.
Photo courtesy of Loren London/Shutterstock