A £2 MILLION pot will be used to help seafood firms find new markets and recover from the “severe” hits of Brexit and Covid-19.
Scots diners will be urged to “buy local, support local” as part of new moves to aid the sector, which supports around 5000 jobs.
Top chefs will also be used to woo the hospitality sector abroad as part of the sweeping plans.
Scots firms suffered from export chaos in January, when red tape and delivery disruptions cost producers an estimated £1 million a day.
A £1.8m Scottish Government fund will now be managed by trade body Seafood Scotland to help seafood companies break into new markets within the UK and abroad. Campaigns in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East are planned to help overcome what the Scottish Government is calling the “severe economic impact” of the twin crises.
In Scotland, this will include “buy local, support local” campaigns to encourage growth in the domestic market and capitalise on rising demand for seafood provenance and quality.
Seafood Scotland will also work with leading chefs to make Scots seafood a “prized, premium item on menus across the globe”.
Announcing the funding on a visit to processors Joseph Robertson in 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.”
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.”
Following the UK’s exit from the EU, the £14m Marine Fund Scotland was set up as the one-year replacement to the European Maritime Fisheries Fund.