Millions made available for Scotland’s struggling seafood sector

Published on
February 3, 2021

Scotland's seafood sector is gettting a boost from the government as the industry continues to struggle with both the COVID-19 pandemic and trade issues caused by Brexit

The new GBP 7.75 million (USD 10.4 million, EUR 8.7 million) funding package offers support to Scotland’s fishermen, seafood businesses, and ports and harbors, all of whom have been threatened by the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus as well as the United Kingdom’s exit from the E.U., the Scottish government has confirmed.

Included in the package is GBP 6.45 million (USD 8.7 million, EUR 7.2 million) for the new Seafood Producers Resilience Fund, which will provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, as well as to trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the E.U. and have lost access to domestic food markets as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, the package dedicates GBP 1 million (USD 1.3 million, EUR 1.1 million) to support the investment plans of ports and harbors faced with a loss of income through landing fees, and up to GBP 300,000 (USD 406,341, EUR 338,004) to assist the welfare and emergency support activities of the Fishermen’s Mission in recognition of the current hardships facing people working in the sector.

Scotland's fisheries secretary, Fergus Ewing, said the Scottish government had stepped up its support of the industry and coastal communities in the absence of any further clarity on the U.K. government’s resilience funding that was announced on 20 January.

“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,” Ewing said. “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.”

Full details of the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund will be available on the Marine Scotland section of the Scottish government website on 5 February.

Seafood Scotland Chief Executive Donna Fordyce said the announcement of the fund showed that the Scottish government had listened to industry pleas for support over the last four weeks, and had “really stepped” up by offering such a comprehensive package.  

“This will have a tangible impact on the livelihoods of some of the hardest hit in the sector and in some cases could save generations-old businesses from going under. With applications to the fund set to open as early as next week we’re confident that businesses will start to see the support they need very soon," she said.

The Scottish seafood industry is highly reliant on exports, particularly to the E.U. In 2019, seafood accounted for 57 percent of Scotland’s overall food exports and had a value of approximately GBP 1 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.1 billion), with 76 percent or GBP 777 million (USD 1 billion, EUR 869.6 million) worth of product going to E.U. markets.

Photo courtesy of richardjohnson/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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