Scotland’s EMFF replacement lands, but fisheries minister wants more funds
Following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, the Scottish government has confirmed the creation of Marine Fund Scotland (EMS), its replacement for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
Through its support of sustainable growth in such sectors as fishing, aquaculture, and seafood processing, the EMFF has committed more than GBP 96 million (USD 133.6 million, EUR 112.1 million) to coastal communities across Scotland since it opened in 2016. It is now closed for new applications, but will continue paying grants until 2023.
Taking over, the MFS has a one-year budget of GBP 14 million (USD 19.5 million, EUR 16.3 million), with all projects needing to be completed by 31 March, 2022.
According to Scotland Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing, the new fund will provide vital investment in the Scottish marine industries and seafood sectors, and protect coastal jobs and livelihoods at a time when many communities are facing “acute hardship” due to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Ewing also condemned the U.K. government for not going far enough with its support, despite making promises to do so.
“In setting up this fund, we’ve been consistently clear that the funding provided by the U.K. government must match the scale of Scotland’s marine responsibilities and the value of our marine industries. However, what has been provided so far for Marine Fund Scotland has been wholly inadequate and far more is needed,” Ewing said. “We’re also prevented from making long-term strategic investments, as the U.K. government will only provide funding on a one-year basis, whereas the EMFF provided multi-year allocations.”
The current funding level, Ewing said, does not match the U.K. government’s promise, and does not come close to a fair share of funding.
“Based on the EMFF budget for 2021-2027, and on our sea area alone, an equitable and evidence-based funding share would be GBP 62 million (USD 86.3 million, EUR 72.4 million) per annum. We have not received that despite the U.K. government promising to match E.U. funding,” he said. “Rest assured, we will continue to press the U.K. government to make good on those pledges as this reduced funding will inevitably limit what we are able to achieve for our fishers and coastal communities.”
Ewing said the U.K. government must deliver on its promise to provide GBP 100 million (USD 139.1 million, EUR 116.8 million) to support fishing industry innovation and modernization, with an equitable share for the Scottish catching and processing sectors.
“Anything less would effectively mean Scottish businesses and coastal communities being short-changed, adding insult to the injury of new trade barriers arising from the Brexit deal,” he said.
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