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Fergus Ewing, pictured right with Gael Force Group owner Stewart Graham, says Brexit places EMFF support in jeopardy. Photo: Paul Campbell/HIE
Fergus Ewing, pictured right with Gael Force Group owner Stewart Graham, says Brexit places EMFF support in jeopardy. Photo: Paul Campbell/HIE

The UK government must urgently set out how it will protect funding for aquaculture after Brexit or risk undermining Scotland’s food and drink success story, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing says.

Speaking at the start of Scotland’s Food and Drink Fortnight, Ewing called on the UK’s Secretary of State for Rural Affairs Michael Gove to clarify his intentions in relation to support for the marine sector, including aquaculture, infrastructure, fishing businesses and processors, in the event that the UK departs from the EU.

Scotland currently receives 46 per cent of the UK’s share of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), with £81 million allocated from the EU to help Scottish businesses expand and become more sustainable over the current 2014-2020 funding period. The Scottish Government provides a further £53 million to EMFF awarded projects.

Funding in jeopardy

Ewing said: “The prospect of Brexit places this support in jeopardy and we need the UK government to urgently confirm firstly, that investment in the marine sector will continue at levels which properly reflect the significance of the sector in the rural economy and secondly, that Scotland will receive its fair share of future funding as well as the power to determine how best to invest it.

“Over the last year we have seen record values of salmon exports and fish landings, and we want to do all we can to ensure this success story continues.”

Despite having 13 per cent of the aquaculture production in the EU, 9 per cent of the sea fisheries landings and the fourth largest sea area to manage, Scotland’s share of the EMFF represents less than 2 per cent of the total EU funding available.