Money for the seafood and fishing industry has been allocated to help the sector deal with the impact of coronavirus and Brexit.
A new £7.75m funding package will offer support to fishermen, seafood businesses, ports and harbours, the Scottish Government has announced.
The package includes £6.45m for the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund to provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the EU.
A further £1ms available to support the investment plans of ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees and £300,000 has been awarded to the Fishermen’s Mission for the welfare and emergency support activities to held workers in hardship.
Fisheries secretary Fergus Ewing said: “In the absence of any further clarity on resilience funding from the UK Government, we are stepping in to support the industry and coastal communities across Scotland and ensuring we meet the emergency needs of crews by providing welfare support through the Fishermen’s Mission.
“In addition to this funding, last week we also supported calls for a new dedicated task force, and announced funding for two new experts to help businesses navigate the new processes and requirements.
“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.
“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.”
According to the government, the Scottish seafood industry’s exports accounted for 57% of the country’s overall food exports in 2019, worth an estimated £1.02bn.
Responding to the announcement, chief executive of trade body Seafood Scotland, Donna Fordyce, said: “The Scottish Government has listened to industry pleas for support over the last four weeks and has 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.”
Details of the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund will be published on the Marine Scotland section of the Scottish Government website from February 5.