Scottish Fisheries Secretary, Fergus Ewing has provided an update on Seafood Sector Support provided by the Government
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing has provided an update on the support the Scottish Government has provided for the seafood sector during Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“The collapse of international markets and the shutdown of the UK’s food service industry due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a severe impact on our seafood industry and the communities that live and work in it.
Over the last few months the Scottish Government has been working at pace to provide a lifeline to fishers, aquaculture and processing businesses which have faced new and unprecedented challenges, introducing a package of hardship funds in a matter of weeks.
Thanks to the remarkable efforts of Marine Scotland staff, we announced the first scheme on 25 March and made the first payments just nine days later.
To help the many fishing businesses that were tied up practically overnight, we launched two funds for vessels over and under 12 metres. I can today confirm that these funds have now closed and have paid out more than £8.2 million to 900 vessels across Scotland, providing essential support to some of our most vulnerable fishers.
As part of our COVID-19 response we have also made extra quota worth up to £2 million available to more than 1,500 smaller vessels which usually target shellfish, giving fishers the opportunity to diversify and to access mackerel and stocks like haddock, whiting and ling in the North Sea and west coast.
Elsewhere in the sector, our Seafood Resilience Fund came to a close last week paying out grants of £5.7 million to 130 seafood processors and we will consider how best to deploy remaining as part of our efforts to support the sector and wider economy.
While in aquaculture we have now paid out more than £367,000 to help 34 businesses as shellfish growers and trout farmers continue to be affected by the loss of market access and the costs of maintaining unsold stock. Further support measures for aquaculture will also be announced shortly.
Last month I also announced £800,000 for 11 aquaculture businesses through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. This will help shellfish growers and trout producers make improvements to their businesses and recover from the loss of markets due to COVID-19.
As we carefully move towards the safe restart of the economy I will continue to work with our seafood sector to provide targeted support and guidance and to regularly consult with industry representatives to ensure we are doing all we can to protect the livelihoods of those working in it.”
Source: Marine Scotland