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Scots fishing industry promised ‘brighter future’ as UK Government launch £75m fund

SCOTS fishing firms are being promised a “bright future” ahead of the New Year with the announcement of a £75m investment fund.

The UK Government has launched the multimillion-pound pot today with the aim of modernising the industry across the four nations and attracting more people into skilled jobs.

Ministers say the investment, which will be open to bids from companies across Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, will strengthen the sector’s ability to land more fish in the UK and bring produce to market.

It comes after a turbulent year for the fishing industry following Brexit, with producers facing long delays trying to get their wares into Europe at the start of the year and processors struggling with labour shortages later in 2021.

The £75m has been split into two lots – £65m for infrastructure and modernisation projects and £10m for career opportunities.

READ MORE: £23m compensation pot for fishing firms losing  ‘genuine buyers’ over Brexit chaos

Projects will be invited to bid for a share of the modernisation fund, with plans focused on reducing carbon emissions and increasing sustainability of the sector given priority. It could see ports and harbours transformed all along the coast, which ministers say is essential due to the increase in fishing quotas as a result of the UK leaving the Common Fisheries Policy, and the EU.

The smaller pot of £10m will be used to encourage a new generation of workers to enter the sector, from processing and catching to aquaculture roles. The UK Government said the funding would be used to provide an “improved package” of training to those new to the industry, as well as making it easier for people who live in coastal communities to progress through their career.

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Lord 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.

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

Lord Offord added: “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.”

The announcement is the latest instalment of the Westminster government’s £100m UK Seafood Fund, which is designed to create more opportunities for coastal communities across the country. 

Since the UK left the EU, the problems facing the fishing industry have been the subject of much political criticism from Labour and the SNP, with the nationalists accusing the UK Government of failing to support Scottish firms specifically, leaving them to wrangle with Brexit red tape. 

However the Conservatives have insisted that the industry has benefitted from the UK’s departure from the EU, with government ministers pointing to the latest cash injection as evidence of their commitment to the sector.

READ MORE: Scotland’s fishermen hit the Brexit rocks – but whose fault is it?

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “A year on from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a positive picture is emerging for our fishing industry.

“Today, we are announcing a £65 million infrastructure scheme which will allow us to modernise ports and harbours and increase capacity and efficiency at processing facilities. A £10 million fund will encourage new entrants into the processing, catching and aquaculture sectors, and train and upskill those in the industry.

“We are committed to levelling up coastal communities across the UK, and this marks a period of rejuvenation for our fishing industry.”

Secretary of State for Levelling Up 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.”

The fishing industry has not only been the subject of internal political disputes, but international ones also. 

READ MORE: Crew of seized Scottish scallop trawler Cornelis Gert Jan in ‘good spirits’ after France arrest

In October one Scottish scallop trawler was detained in France over a dispute about licences. 

The Cornelis Gert Jan was ordered to dock in Le Havre, with the crew detained after French marine patrollers said the vessel did not have the correct licence to fish in their waters. 

It came following an escalation of tensiones between the two countries over fishing licences, with France claiming the UK had failed to grant the promised number of licences to its fishermen to fish in Jersey’s waters.

Earlier this month a further 18 licences were issued, with the French government saying it has now received 93 per cent of the permits promised by the UK.

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