THE seafood sector is to receive an initial package of more than £5 million in financial support to assist businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Funding will be offered to over 650 seafood fishing companies, many of whom have lost their livelihoods with the collapse of export and hospitality markets for Scottish delicacies like langoustine, prawns and crab.
An initial payment of 50% of two months’ average earnings will be made to owners of all full time Scottish registered fishing vessels of 12 metres length and under – the vast majority of which are in the creel and dive sectors, many of whom operate in remote and island communities.
Support is also being developed for the onshore processing industry – one of the largest employers in Scotland’s coastal communities – and others in the shellfish growing sector which is being affected by the loss of trade and markets.
Fergus Ewing, fisheries secretary, said: “The economic impact of COVID-19 is global, and is reaching into the heart of our fragile coastal communities. I have spent the last week listening to and liaising with our fishing industry, and there are many who have lost their livelihoods with little prospect of an early recovery. The need for action is immediate.
“I am therefore announcing an initial package of support, and Scottish Government offcials are working as hard as possible to get this money out of the door as fast as we can.
“We recognise that more needs to be done, particularly to try and create some alternative markets – at least in the short-term. I will be discussing with retailers how that might be achieved, and I would also encourage the public to play their part by buying Scottish seafood if they can. By working together we can all play a part in securing the immediate future of some of the key contributors to Scotland’s food and drink success.”