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03/06/20 11:20

Support for seafood industry

More than £5 million provided to processors.

A total of 128 companies have now received support through the Scottish Government’s Seafood Resilience Fund.

The scheme, which was launched in April, has paid out grants of £5.6 million to assist seafood processors impacted by the collapse of international markets and the shutdown of the UK’s food service industry due to COVID-19.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the market for seafood was immediate and severe. In response we have put in place a range of support, including the Seafood Resilience Fund, which was set up to protect the processing companies that form such a crucial part of our coastal economies.

“I am pleased that we have been able to support 128 companies through the scheme, and I know that – although times continue to be difficult – these funds have made a difference.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work with our seafood sector to provide targeted support and guidance as we begin to carefully move towards the safe restart of the economy. As we begin to consider how to recover from the impact of the pandemic, it will be important to explore how to build greater resilience and more local opportunities for people in Scotland and the UK to enjoy our fantastic seafood.”

Stephen Thomson of JK Thomson - a seafood processor based in Musselburgh, East Lothian, which received a £100,000 grant through the scheme - said:

“I would say the timing of this fund and the speed in which it was paid - so soon after the application went in - was vital.  When we filled in the application form, things appeared to be very bleak, and to know the Scottish Government was behind us was very comforting, and gave us great encouragement.”

Jimmy Buchan from the Scottish Seafood Association (SSA), said:

“The Scottish Seafood Association is very appreciative of the speed and delivery of the resilience fund for the processing sector.  This has saved several businesses from failure. By and large, the COVID-19 shutdown affected most Scottish processors, and without the fast action of the Scottish Government would have led to job losses right across the seafood supply chain. The Scottish Government, along with the Rural Economy Secretary, actively engaged with the SSA during the industry’s most important hour of need. There is still much work to be done, with the SSA actively engaged with all in the supply chain.”

Background:

Applications for the Seafood Resilience Fund have now closed. Other COVID-19 funds that have been assisting the fishing industry include the Sea Fisheries Intervention Fund, to support boat owners, and the Aquaculture Hardship Fund to help shellfish and trout farmers.