Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to put in place an initial package of more than £5 million in financial support to assist businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Fishing is a major employer in the Western Isles, and the sector has been hit hard by the outbreak as demand for produce such as langoustine, prawns and crab has fallen sharply as the export and hospitality markets contract.

The funding will be offered to 650 companies in the industry, including onshore processing firms. Owners of vessels less than 12 metres long will receive an initial payment of 50% of two months' average earnings, administered by Marine Scotland.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“I welcome the swift action taken by the Scottish Government to support a sector of huge importance to the islands.

“It is an industry with unique needs and the virtual overnight collapse of markets for their produce in the continent, the livelihoods of many local fishers were under threat. I hope this support is distributed to eligible businesses as swiftly as possible.

“I also welcome the fact that vessels not eligible for this initial support package, but who are in urgent need of support, will be considered for support on a case by case basis.

“As well as its economic importance, fishing has a strong place in the heritage and culture of the Western Isles. At this time of hardship for the industry, we need to do what we can to stimulate domestic demand. We have some of the best produce anywhere in Europe right here on our doorsteps and I would encourage to take advantage of this.”

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