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Whitehills fish processing company amongst recipients of sector financial aid

By David Porter

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Fishing businesses and marine organisations have been awarded funding to mitigate the impacts of Brexit and help the sector recover from effects of Covid-19.

The financial support of almost £800,000 – part of the £14 million Marine Fund Scotland - was announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon in a food and drink debate in the Scottish Parliament.

Opening the debate ahead of Food and Drink Fortnight, Ms Gougeon said: “Our producers, farmers and fishermen showed tremendous spirit as they navigated the pandemic and now face the stark realities of a new operating landscape brought about by a reckless Brexit deal.

“Daily, we hear of new and emerging challenges - shortages of HGV drivers, workers in processing and manufacturing, as well as associated skills shortages across the industry.

“Labour and skills shortages like these lay bare the extraordinary recklessness of this hard Brexit.

"We certainly shouldn’t forget that as businesses faced Brexit border disruptions and barriers to trade – which cost UK food exporters £700m in January alone - the UK Government dismissed industry concerns as 'teething troubles'.

Ms Gougeon added the food and drink sector had been one of the industries most adversely affected by Brexit, undermining its ambition to double turnover to £30 billion by 2030.

A total of £ 357,466 was awarded to the Independent Fisheries Science Support Scheme, the latest phase of the independent on board observers programme’ programme.

Board observers monitor catch, the data is then fed into Marine Scotland Science and used for stock management.

Downies of Whitehills have been awarded £206,000 to improve energy efficiency at their site.
Downies of Whitehills have been awarded £206,000 to improve energy efficiency at their site.

George Downie Seafood Processor in Whitehills was awarded £206,039 which will go towards building a new store and installing a freezer, increasing efficiency, reducing energy usage and packaging use.

Opportunity North East which will be working with the Scottish Seafood Association to develop seafood processing and deliver training were awarded £52,000.

£130,000 was made to young fishers, the grant will provide equipment and vessels they require to start catching whitefish and creel.

The Solway Marine Litter Project, which aims to clean 200 miles of beach was awarded £38,260.

This will enable the Solway Firth Partnership to co-ordinate cleans and encourage community groups, hire skips and purchase equipment, as well as collecting information about marine litter.

Speaking after the debate, Ms Gougeon said: “Everyday people do extraordinary things to keep Scotland fed – particularly our fishers who put their lives at risk to ensure we all get to enjoy fresh seafood and fish.

“We are determined to support them to do so safely and sustainably.

"We will support farmers and land managers who produce more of our own food needs and manage our land sustainably with nature and for the climate.”

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