Fishing communities to benefit from £75m funding boost, says UK Government

Fishing communities are set to benefit from a £75 million funding boost, the UK Government has announced.

It said the extra money would strengthen the sector’s ability to land more fish and take them to market faster.

But the Scottish Government said the area was devolved and accused UK ministers of “causing confusion, duplication and inefficient use of public money”.

It follows a difficult year for the fishing industry, which has faced challenges adapting to post-Brexit rules.

Picture: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

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Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, said the grants would "help deal with the ongoing fallout from Brexit, including crippling labour issues which investment in automation may begin to ease, but only if funds are distributed equitably".

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice said a £65m infrastructure scheme will help modernise ports and harbours and increase capacity and efficiency at processing facilities.

Meanwhile, a £10m fund will seek to encourage new entrants into the processing, catching and aquaculture sectors, and “train and upskill” those in the industry.

The two schemes are the second and third parts of the £100m UK Seafood Fund, which aims to “level up” coastal communities.

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UK Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “This multi million-pound investment will have a real and tangible impact on coastal communities across country and the UK fish industry.

“It will support the creation of jobs and training opportunities that will help put the industry on a sure footing for the future.

“We are working hard to boost local communities and spread opportunity to every corner of the country as we level up the nation.”

Scotland Office minister Malcolm Offord said: “We want to guarantee our fishing industry has a bright future and today’s allocation of funding is a great step forward.

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"From upgrading ports and improving processing facilities to boosting training and encouraging recruitment, it all brings a massive boost for the industry.

“Our engagement with Scotland’s fish and seafood sector is ongoing. We are listening to concerns and we are acting upon them for the benefit of business owners, workers and Scotland’s wider coastal communities.”

SNP Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Additional spending for businesses and initiatives in Scotland is always welcomed.

“However, this isn’t simply additional funding. First and foremost this is UK Government spending in an area devolved to the Scottish Government and an area of crucial importance for Scotland.

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“It is for Scottish ministers, accountable to Scottish Parliament, to make decisions about how marine and fisheries funding is spent in line with our priorities.

"The UK Government is presenting the UK Seafood Fund as a solution to all the industry’s challenges with more landings and more opportunity to support the long term economic development in coastal communities. In truth, the botched Brexit deal means a reduction in quota available for Scottish vessels.

“If the appropriate share of the £100m funding for the UK Seafood Fund had been allocated to Scottish Government directly, we would have been able to support meaningful investments which our detailed engagement with the marine and seafood sectors have identified.

“Instead what we will have is the UK Seafood Fund operating in the same space as our own Marine Fund Scotland scheme, causing confusion, duplication and inefficient use of public money.”

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