Funding of £1.8 million will help Scottish seafood businesses recover from the severe economic impacts of Brexit and Covid-19.
The fund, managed by trade marketing body Seafood Scotland, will support seafood businesses to access new markets within the UK and abroad, including campaigns in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
The work will also include developing a strategy to encourage sustainability and improve quality assurance and accreditation of seafood produce.
Around 5,000 jobs will be supported by the fund with the money being divided among 80 projects before the end of the financial year.
Eat more seafood
Though many of the projects are still yet to be announced, much of the money will go towards encouraging consumers to eat more seafood, as well as improving trade relationships both domestically and internationally.
Seafood Scotland will also be using the opportunity to nurture relationships with major retailers who stock seafood in their stores.
The body will also be developing its foodservice marketing within Scotland and building more understanding around seafood seasonality and diversity among fishery staff.
In Scotland, “buy local, support local” campaigns will also encourage growth in the domestic market, capitalising on rising demand for seafood provenance and quality.
As the hospitality industry continues to reopen, Seafood Scotland will form close links with leading chefs, working alongside them to make Scottish seafood a prized, premium item on menus across the globe.
Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland said: “The Scottish seafood supply chain is now firmly in recovery mode, with ambitious plans to access new markets and to grow existing trade relationships.
“Our role is to support them on this journey, opening doors to new opportunities, and to spread the word about the quality of our produce, which is prized the world over.”
Announcing the funding on a visit to Aberdeen, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The last 16 months have been devastating for businesses in the seafood sector who have faced significant losses due to hospitality closures from Covid-19 and a raft of new trade barriers and bureaucracy following Brexit.
“The seafood sector is a crucial part of our rural economy, supporting jobs in coastal communities and our priority has been to protect people’s livelihoods.
“While we continue to work to resolve some of the export issues the sector faces, this new funding will help the sector’s longer term recovery from these recent challenges.
“The funding for Seafood Scotland will help businesses explore new markets, giving them the support to promote their products across the UK and further afield.”
Though Seafood Scotland is yet to announce the projects that will benefit from the investment, throughout its past and current projects it has helped develop international trade shows, connected local businesses with the public and even launched a podcast.
A spokesperson for Seafood Scotland said: “The Scottish Government funds Seafood Scotland to support seafood-related business all over Scotland by undertaking marketing activity and initiatives that promote Scottish seafood all over the world, engaging chefs, food service companies, and trade buyers with quality seafood, which in turn encourages commercial trade.
“Previous initiatives have included visits by groups of chefs, media and influencer visits to Scottish businesses, international trade shows – even virtual ones – form the commercial gateway to trade across the globe and are a key focus.
“Many north-east companies, including John Ross Jnr, Nor-Sea Foods, Lunar and Nolan Seafoods have joined the Scottish pavilion to share our bounty with international buyers.
“A project we are currently supporting is Stories from the Sea, a brand new podcast series from Seafood Scotland, developed to find and share the stories of Scotland’s seafood industry, its importance to the Scottish economy and share the quality and provenance of Scottish seafood with key people and markets across the world.
“In our first episode, Sea the People, we travelled to Fraserburgh Harbour and recorded on location with George West, one of the Fraserburgh Harbour commissioners and a fisherman himself. George has been part of the industry at Fraserburgh since he was six years old, and started helping his father fish aged 10.
“The next episode, launched on July 30, looks at sustainability within the industry and was recorded on location at Peterhead Fish Market, talking to Elspeth MacDonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
“In the same episode, we also spoke to Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association about the work the pelagic fleet is doing to support and improve sustainability in the Scottish seafood industry.
“Such projects, which raise awareness of Scotland’s quality seafood and encourage consumers to eat more of it is what we plan to help support using this new Scottish Government funding.”