Seafood exporters to receive government funding of up to £23 million

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But SSPO says “shambles was avoidable”.

The UK Government has announced that seafood exporters will receive government funding of up to GBP 23 million.

Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) CEO Tavish Scott welcomed the details of the compensation scheme announced by the UK Government but stressed that the priority was getting salmon to customers, GBP 300 million of which is exported annually to the EU, quickly and efficiently.

Seafood exporters are facing major issues getting fish to Europe such as managing complex paperwork now required for each load. The trade organisation said that it expects there will be an import crisis if Polish and Spanish drivers decline the journey into the UK.

Individual operators will be able to receive up to GBP 0.1 million to cover losses incurred since the beginning of January.

“Compensation may help a limited number of seafood businesses and that would be welcome. The salmon farming sector is worth GBP 300 million every year in exports to Europe. Our sector simply wants the ability to successfully sell fish into this European marketplace. That objective has been riven by difficulties since 1st January. Sorting out these endless problems for exporting salmon companies should be the top priority of government,” said Scott.

SSPO boss Tavish Scott. PHOTO: SSPO

In an editorial penned for an upcoming issue of the Daily Mail, Scott said that this is still “huge pressure is on haulage firms”.

“European based drivers are now reluctant to cross the Channel into the UK. That affects both imports and exports. This export crisis may only hit home when supermarket shelves start to run empty. If Polish and Spanish drivers decline the journey into the UK there will be an import crisis,” he said.

Fergus Ewing in parliament. PHOTO: Scottish Parliament

He said that the compensation package may help some, but it does not alter the fundamental issues that are now and approaching.

“At this stage, salmon farming companies want to trade, not look for government handouts. We want the ability to sell Scottish salmon – healthy, nutritious protein valued by our European customers. We ask the government to step in and help us all do that. We have had three weeks of teething problems. Enough is enough,” he concluded.

In a statement, Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said that the compensation was a “sticking plaster for much wider issues”.

“It is also unacceptable that the UK Government did not consult us on this funding package as our view and that of the Scottish industry is that devolved governments are clearly best placed to take decisions and administer spending in their areas. We proved this with our schemes to provide support for all businesses affected by the pandemic – to exclude us from this scheme will delay speed of its delivery and further jeopardise Scottish seafood businesses,” he said.