Seafood firms ‘ineligible’ for £23m support scheme
Donna Fordyce: ‘the industry is disappointed’
Seafood firms hoping a £23 million government support scheme would help keep them in business are being told they are not eligible to claim.
The UK government’s Seafood Disruption Support Scheme went live today (Tuesday) to cover up to £100,000 of losses caused by delays getting fresh and live fish and shellfish to the EU during January 2021.
But Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland said companies had hoped the £23m would go some way to alleviating the pressure, while the existing problems could be resolved.
“The initial industry feedback today is one of disappointment, with many companies instantly realising they will be ineligible for support.
“This includes companies that have simply had to stop trying because their product has not been getting through. Or, seafood businesses whose long-standing orders from customers in the EU have dried up because of the export crisis.”
She added: “Companies cannot produce health certificates and other documentation for orders never made because of a lack of customer confidence that product would reach the EU on time, and in peak condition.”
Ms Fordyce said that since 1 January, seafood exports have slowed to a trickle as companies struggle to navigate systems that are “not fit for purpose, being tested in real time, and are creating an intractable barrier to trade”
She said: “Some companies have even given up trying and have put their businesses on ice for the time being, at great financial suffering to their owners, staff, families, and communities.
“It’s probable that these companies will never be fully compensated for what they have lost and are still losing, but the damage could still be limited if the systems were workable and export gets back on track quickly.”