The EU scheme has supported salmon farming and processors in the past.
Scotland should receive at least GBP 62 million annually in replacement of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) according to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism & Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing in a press release from the Scottish Government.
The EMFF designed to support maritime, fisheries, and aquaculture activity but it no longer applies as the UK is not a part of the EU’s political bodies or institutions anymore.
Salmon businesses in the neighbouring Republic of Ireland are still eligible for the support as the country is in the EU. For example, last month SalmonBusiness reported that Cork-based Keohane Seafoods will receive EUR 1.7 million to upgrade its salmon processing equipment and factory reconfiguration. Scottish companies have been recipients in the past.
Ewing raised the issue at an EU Exit Operations meeting last week and has now written to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, seeking much-needed clarity on UK Government funding for the sector from the 1st January 2021, which is when the transition period ends.
“In addition to Brexit, Scotland’s seafood sector has been hard hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with the loss of export and foodservice markets. The new funding is also key to supporting recovery for coastal communities and protecting jobs,” said Ewing.
Ewing’s letter stated that “Scotland would anticipate any domestic replacement funding to reflect this importance” and he is seeking an allocation to replace the EMFF of GBP 62 million-per-year.
“As I have also highlighted consistently, the loss of EU funding comes at a time when the biggest risk to Scotland’s seafood industry is the UK Government’s Brexit proposals. The harm Brexit will impose on the people and economy of Scotland must be minimised as far as possible,” he said.
“The alternative is to see our seafood industries facing potentially crippling delays and additional costs, which could prove devastating for jobs and exports and have wider repercussions for the marine sectors and the fragile communities which rely on these sectors. If we had remained as EU members the replacement for the EMFF would have been available from the start of January 2021. Given the UK Government’s commitments in respect of EU funding, it is therefore vitally important that the option is also available to support the seafood sector from the start of January 2021,” the minister said.