Coronavirus support allocated to Scottish seafood

Published on
March 25, 2020

Scotland’s seafood sector is to receive new funding to help it through the coronavirus crisis, with an initial package of more than GBP 5 million (USD 6 million, EUR 5.5 million) provided to assist businesses, the nation’s government has announced.

Funding will be offered to more than 650 seafood fishing companies, with many having lost their livelihoods through the collapse of export and hospitality markets for delicacies like langoustine, shrimp and crab, the government has said.

An initial payment of 50 percent of two-months’-average earnings will be made to owners of all full-time Scottish-registered fishing vessels of 12 meters in length and under. The majority of these are in the creel and dive sectors, and most operate in remote and island communities.

Support is also being developed for the onshore processing industry, which is one of the largest employers in Scotland’s coastal communities, and for the shellfish growing sector, which is being affected by the loss of trade and markets.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 is global, and is reaching into the heart of our fragile coastal communities. I have spent the last week listening to and liaising with our fishing industry, and there are many who have lost their livelihoods with little prospect of an early recovery,” Scotland Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said. “The need for action is immediate. I am therefore announcing an initial package of support, and Scottish government officials are working as hard as possible to get this money out of the door as fast as we can.”

Ewing added that the initial package is likely just the start of the government’s efforts to aid the industry.

“We recognize that more needs to be done, particularly to try and create some alternative markets – at least in the short-term,” he said. “I will be discussing with retailers how that might be achieved, and I would also encourage the public to play their part by buying Scottish seafood if they can. By working together we can all play a part in securing the immediate future of some of the key contributors to Scotland’s food and drink success.”

Historically, Scotland had around 2,000 active fishing vessels, catching more than 540,000 metric tons of fish and shellfish and generating first-sales of more than GBP 500 million (USD 595.8 million, EUR 551.2 million). The nation’s seafood exports achieve sales of around GBP 1 billion (USD 1.2 billion, EUR 1.1 billion) annually.  

Photo courtesy of Catriona Crawford/Shutterstock 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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