The Scottish Seafood Association (SSA) has hit out at government schemes set up to help the sector deal with financial losses caused by Brexit.
The organisation said the seafood processing sector had been let down in its “hour of greatest need”.
SSA chief executive Jimmy Buchan acknowledged the financial support from Westminster and Holyrood for COVID-19 and Brexit.
However, he stressed that the pay-outs under the £23 million Brexit scheme are only for 50% of losses.
Mr Buchan said the scheme also excludes larger businesses and exporters who chose not to ship smaller consignments of seafoods because the cost exceeds the value.
He said: “The truth is that while the financial support that has been forthcoming [and] has been gratefully received, its partial nature means that businesses are being left in great difficulties in their hour of greatest need.
“There have been a lot of promises relating to smoothing the export path post-Brexit, but very few of them have been delivered.”
The chief executive also condemned the UK government for failing to indicate how its £100m funding scheme, promised as part of the Brexit agreement, would work and which businesses are eligible.
He continued: “This funding package now looks like a convenient headline designed to appease the sector.
“When will they start taking bids, who will be eligible, when will pay-outs be made?
“We need to know but we are greeted with silence on this at every turn.”
Mr Buchan also condemned the Scottish government for not using devolved powers and funds to help the industry.
He added: “They have a £14 million fund from the Treasury, which they have known about for some time, yet there are no guidelines and application process in place.
“We know only that all projects must be for SMEs and completed by 31st March 2022 – far too tight a timetable for major works.
“It is time for both governments to step up to the plate and back up their promises with meaningful action.
“This sector is the backbone of many rural Scottish communities and a source of jobs as well as world-class seafood.
“If we don’t support these businesses and jobs, they will be lost to other regions and other countries and they won’t come back.”
The Scottish Seafood Association was formed in 2011 and serves as the national body representing Scotland’s seafood processing and trading sectors.
The organisation has around 70 members across the country and supports 5,000 jobs within the industry.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We recognise the difficulties faced by UK seafood businesses affected by both the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges of adjusting to new export requirements earlier this year.
“The £23 million fund provided by the UK Government, covering the Seafood Disruption Support Scheme and the Seafood Response Fund has so far provided targeted support to 2,000 eligible catching and aquaculture businesses, with further payments to be made this month.
“In the longer term, the Prime Minister has also announced a further £100 million to help rejuvenate the industry and coastal communities across the UK.”
The Scottish Government was unable to comment.