News & Views
Scottish aquaculture gets £3 million in government aid
By Mari-Len De Guzman
Scotland’s shellfish and trout farmers affected by COVID-19 can have access to nearly £3 million (US$3.3 million) in financial support from the Scottish government.
Hardship payments of up to £27,000 are being made available for around 100 businesses which make a full time living from shellfish growing and trout farming, the government said in a statement.
“COVID-19 is having a profound impact on all aspects of Scottish life which is why the Scottish Government is working to protect lives and livelihoods,” said rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing.
Acknowledging aquaculture as a “thriving” part of the Scottish rural economy, Ewing pointed out the market for some aquaculture products has disappeared “almost overnight,” leaving many at risk of financial ruin.
“Action is required urgently to preserve the future of Scotland’s aquaculture sector and the social fabric of our remote and rural communities which is now under threat,” he said.
Payments will be made directly to eligible shellfish growers and trout farmers as soon as possible, Ewing added.
Both the British Trout Association and the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers (ASSG) welcomed the aid. The ASSG noted the aid will help shellfish growers maintain farm sites for oyster and mussel production.
“The spring months are vital for maintenance of stock and the collection of wild mussel seed to sustain future years production and it is paramount this work is able to be safely undertaken with experienced staff retained by businesses,” said the association’s chief executive Dr. Nick Lake in a statement.
“Financial support at this critical point should ensure shellfish cultivation businesses are able to continue to deliver high quality shellfish to the markets as soon as conditions improve.”
The aquaculture hardship fund will pay grants to eligible aquaculture businesses most at risk of immediate financial ruin due to the disappearance of domestic and export food markets.
To apply for a grant, shellfish and trout businesses are required to demonstrate that the business operates on a full-time basis and has suffered severe hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the government said.
Grant payments will cover two months and be equivalent to 50 percent of the average monthly gross revenue from sales of aquaculture products in 2019 of each business.