April 23, 2020


Scotland's seafood sector gets extra GBP3.5 million aid



An additional GBP3.5 million to help Scotland's large sea fishing vessels brings the total available support funds for the country's seafood industry to GBP22.5 million.


The government has used UK funding as well as existing Scottish budget to help meet the unique needs and circumstances of key sectors in the rural economy hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.


While the four financial support schemes announced so far will in particular help businesses based in coastal and island communities, key employers around Scotland involved in fish processing and trout farming will also benefit.


The latest scheme will provide capped payments of up to GBP21,370 per vessel to businesses with a vessel over 12 metres landing shellfish such as crab, lobster, scallop and langoustine to help them meet fixed costs like insurance. It will also provide up to GBP42,740 for businesses operating more than one vessel. Amounts will be graduated by fleet segment and length category.


Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said, "I have been working closely with the fishing and aquaculture industry since the global COVID-19 outbreak began, and have listened to calls from businesses who have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight as their markets have shut down in response to vital public health advice.


"This latest funding benefits more than 220 Scottish vessels over 12 metres. Overall, more than 1,000 fishing and aquaculture businesses are now eligible for funding to help them, their crews and staff through this unprecedented period.


"We are using Scottish and UK Government funds to support the unique needs and circumstances of Scotland's economy, particularly to help safeguard livelihoods in coastal and island communities. This package represents the most comprehensive set of measures to support fishing and fish farming anywhere in the UK. 


"Support being provided to businesses operating vessels over 12 metres finalises the relief we can offer to the sea fishing and aquaculture sectors to mitigate the economic and social impact of COVID-19 having exhausted current transitional funding streams. Discussions with industry will continue as to the impact on future sector spend. I would urge the public to play their part in supporting these key contributors to Scotland's food success story by buying Scottish seafood and fish if they can."


Elspeth Macdonald, CEO of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), said, "We welcome this further tranche of financial support for the Scottish fishing fleet, much of which has been under severe pressure since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our markets, first abroad and then at home. Most of the Scottish shellfish fleet has been tied up for almost a month now, as restrictions and lockdowns mean restaurant, hospitality and foodservice markets around the world that normally enjoy Scottish seafood, have essentially disappeared. 


"Fishing businesses are floating businesses, so are not eligible for the Covid Small Business Grants Scheme based on rateable premises. We are grateful to Fergus Ewing and Marine Scotland for having regular dialogue with us, listening to industry, and acting quickly to provide support to the fishing industry and wider seafood sector, on which so many of our coastal communities depend."