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Call for marine funding certainty

Published: 3 Sep 2017 00:01

Scottish Government seeks answers on future fisheries and aquaculture investment.

The UK Government must urgently set out how it will protect funding for fish and seafood sectors post-Brexit or risk undermining Scotland’s food and drink success story, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has said.

Speaking at the start of Food and Drink Fortnight, Mr Ewing called on the UK’s Secretary of State for Rural Affairs Michael Gove to clarify his intentions in relation to support for the marine sector, including fishing businesses, processors, aquaculture and infrastructure, in the event that the UK departs from the EU.

Scotland currently receives 46% of the UK’s share of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), with £81 million allocated from the EU to help Scottish businesses expand and become more sustainable over the current 2014 – 2020 funding period. The Scottish Government provides a further £53 million to EMFF awarded projects.

Mr Ewing called for certainty ahead of a visit to Scrabster, Scotland’s second biggest whitefish landing port, which received more than £542,000 from the EMFF for its new ice plant. Fishing and the wider harbour activity at Scrabster generates £25 million for the Caithness economy and supports more than 400 jobs.

He said:

“The UK Government’s failure to acknowledge our concerns around future funding for coastal communities is disrespectful to the fishermen and businesses that rely on this investment.  

“The prospect of Brexit places this support in jeopardy and we need the UK Government to urgently confirm firstly, that investment in the marine sector will continue at levels which properly reflect the significance of the sector in the rural economy and secondly, that Scotland will receive its fair share of future funding as well as the power to determine how best to invest it.

“Over the last year we have seen record values of salmon exports and fish landings, and we want to do all we can to ensure this success story continues.”

Background

The current EU budget includes £81 million in direct assistance which is supporting jobs, businesses, infrastructure, research and development. The Scottish Government has also provided a further £53 million to EMFF awarded projects.

Despite having 9% of the sea fisheries landings in the EU, 13% of the aquaculture production, and the fourth largest sea area to manage, Scotland’s share of the EMFF represents less than 2% of the total EU funding available, given the UK Government’s decision to accept a disproportionately small share of the overall available funds.

Information on Food and Drink Fortnight.