Seafood has a vital role in growing our economy

As fisheries minister, I know how hard our fishermen work to ensure people at home and abroad can enjoy sustainably sourced British fish.

At the heart of this effort is the hugely important Scottish fishing and aquaculture industry.

In my first few days in the role back in September I came up to Peterhead to hear directly from representatives from the fishing industry.

The experience helped me to understand both the challenges and opportunities the sector is facing.

These are exciting times for our fishing industry and I am determined to oversee real change for fishing communities across the United Kingdom.”

Scottish vessels land hundreds of millions of pounds of stock every year, and the aquaculture sector produces some of the most highly sought after products – like Scottish salmon, one of the most important food and drink exports for the UK.

It’s clear that our seafood sector plays a vital role in our food security and growing our economy.

After nearly 40 years of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, fishing fleets have already increased quota after Brexit and it’s my mission to support a profitable, resilient and sustainable sector that provides delicious seafood to the British public for generations to come.

UK Seafood Fund aims

Our £100 million UK Seafood Fund has been set up to do precisely this – to develop sustainable approaches to fishing, level up coastal communities around the UK, improve infrastructure and, ultimately, support the long-term future of our fishing and seafood sectors.

One of the main parts of the fund is being used to improve facilities and make sure we can meet increased demands, maximize opportunities and continue to deliver the UK’s renowned seafood both at home and abroad.

Denholm Seafoods is one of the biggest winners in the first round of UK Seafood Fund Infrastructure Scheme funding. Image: Google Street View

Today, I am delighted to say Denholm Seafoods in Peterhead has been awarded UK Government funding to install brand new equipment – ​​such as state-of-the-art automatic freezers and packing machines that will substantially increase the production of mackerel and herring.

These changes will help the company meet future export market demand for premium quality Scottish pelagic fish.

Aquaculture benefitting too

It’s not the only investment being made in Scotland either. In the West Highlands, Mowi Scotland, an aquaculture processing facility for salmon is receiving grants to help fund modern equipment to speed up both the processing and dispatch of their products.

This investment will result in a vast increase in production as well as a reduction in single-use polystyrene boxes, making the company more sustainable.

More cash to come

Building on this, a further £30m is being made available in the latest round of funding.

It will be allocated for large infrastructure projects in ports, harbors, aquaculture and processing, and businesses will have until March 2025 to deliver their transformational projects.

These are exciting times for our fishing industry and I am determined to oversee real change for fishing communities across the United Kingdom.

I encourage everyone in the sector – whether they are a large or small operator – to engage with the UK Seafood Fund and bring their ideas to the table.

Mark Spencer MP, a former Conservative Party chief whip, became minister of state for farming, fisheries and food in September.

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