Scottish fishermen turn to food banks as Covid-19 devastates industry

Fishing communities have already suffered from poor catches this winter.
Photo: Ian Rutherford/Alamy

Scottish fishermen are turning to food banks and welfare organisations, as the coronavirus crisis has led to plummeting demand for seafood, leaving many unable to work to feed their families.

Worst-hit are lobster and crab fishermen in Scotland’s south-east and west coasts, according to the Fishermen’s Mission, a Christian welfare charity.

The UK fishing industry is worth £989m annually, with Scottish vessels responsible for more than half, at £574m in 2018.

On 25 March, the Scottish government announced a £5m assistance package aimed at 650 seafood companies impacted by the collapse in the market for shellfish, and for owners of full-time registered vessels under 12 metres.

It’s a pretty grim picture across the board. The seafood sector has been one of the hardest hit of all the sectors in Scotland, because of the level of exports. The market has more or less collapsed in Europe

Donna Fordyce, the interim head of trade marketing body Seafood Scotland, which is working on exploring other alternatives to get Scotland’s seafood to consumers

A further £10m package for fish processing businesses was announced by the Scottish government on 3 April.

One tactic used by some shellfish fishermen in Devon and Cornwall is selling direct to the public however, this is more challenging in remote communities in Scotland.

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