April 25, 2020
Scottish seafood processors have not be left without government support during the COVID-19 pandemic. A £10-million scheme, called the Scottish Seafood Business Resilience Fund, provides a combination of grants and loans to seafood-processing businesses suffering severe hardship following the shutdown of international markets and the food service industry across the UK.
Shellfish and seafood processing businesses have been greatly impacted owing to early collapse of Chinese and Asian export markets, as well as of the EU market. They have also suffered the brunt of global impacts on the hospitality markets for Scottish seafood.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said, "Our seafood processors are the lifeblood of many rural and coastal communities, supporting thousands of local jobs and producing some of the finest seafood in the world. The industry has been very clear that cashflow is the critical issue facing businesses and this new fund seeks to inject capital into businesses to help them meet their ongoing costs, keep the business solvent and keep people on the payroll".
Donna Fordyce, interim head of Seafood Scotland said the seafood sector "is one of the most fragile areas of Scotland's economy, yet delivers so much in terms of employment and export effort".
"With most export routes almost entirely closed off and around 80% of shellfish and seafood normally destined for international markets, the industry is currently on its knees but this package will help many seafood businesses live beyond the impact of COVID-19".
The Scottish government said on its website that funding will be available to those businesses that have/are suffering "severe hardship".
It said the support would be administered as quickly as possible to enable owners to continue to operate or to remain closed but keep their business afloat until they are able to resume production.
Along with the Seafood Business Resilience Fund are three other seafood financial support schemes, which will in particular help shellfish and trout farmers; owners of large sea fishing vessels; and businesses based in coastal and island communities. All four make available a total of £22.5 million in financial help to the seafood industry.