£1.8 million for seafood sector

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Funding of £1.8 million has been announced to help Scottish seafood businesses recover from the economic impacts of Brexit and Covid-19.

The funding will support seafood businesses to access new markets within the UK and abroad, including campaigns in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East, said the Scottish Government.

As major international trade events begin again, together with a number of virtual online events, these platforms will enable Seafood Scotland to engage with buyers to experience the broad range of seafood available, it said.

Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, said: ‘The Scottish seafood supply chain is now firmly in recovery mode, with ambitious plans to access new markets and to grow existing trade relationships.

‘Our role is to support them on this journey, opening doors to new opportunities and to spread the word about the quality of our produce, which is prized the world over.’

In Scotland, ‘buy local, support local’ campaigns are being run to encourage growth in the domestic market, capitalising on rising demand for seafood provenance and quality, said the Scottish Government.

Seafood Scotland will also form close links with leading chefs, working alongside them to make Scottish seafood a ‘prized, premium item’ on menus across the globe.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon announced the funding.

She said: ‘The last 16 months have been devastating for businesses in the seafood sector who have faced significant losses due to hospitality closures from Covid-19 and a raft of new trade barriers and bureaucracy following Brexit.

‘The seafood sector is a crucial part of our rural economy, supporting jobs in coastal communities and our priority has been to protect people’s livelihoods.

‘While we continue to work to resolve some of the export issues the sector faces, this new funding will help the sector’s longer term recovery from these recent challenges.

‘The funding for Seafood Scotland will help businesses explore new markets, giving them the support to promote their products across the UK and further afield.’

Welcoming the funding was Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara.

He said: ‘Support for the fishing and seafood industry, particularly in this constituency and rural communities across Scotland, is vital both in the recovery from the pandemic and to help deal with ongoing challenges posed by Brexit.

‘We have the best seafood in the world and it is absolutely right this industry is given the assistance it needs and that there is a focus on building local as well as international markets, which will help support jobs crucial to the sustainability of so many of our communities.’