Page last updated at 23:37 GMT, Sunday, 26 April 2009 00:37 UK

Fishing firms to get cash boost

Fish in a trawler hold
Fishing is worth 1bn to the Scottish economy

Scottish fishing firms are to share almost £3m of European money aimed at helping them invest in new markets and safeguard 600 jobs.

The European fisheries fund cash will be split among 39 companies. The fishing sector is worth more than £1bn to the Scottish economy.

The funding was announced by Scottish ministers before a visit to a major seafood show in Brussels on Tuesday.

Last year's event created £2.8m in new business for Scotland.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "Scotland is rightly renowned around the world for the quality of its fish and shellfish.

"The fishing, processing and aquaculture sectors support thousands of jobs directly and indirectly, often in rural and coastal communities, and make a huge contribution to our economy.

"In these difficult times it is vital we ensure they have a sustainable and profitable future."

The government said the £2.9m of funding could create 55 jobs and safeguard a further 597.

'Export market'

About £203,000 of the total will go towards helping the industry break into new markets and target customers in France.

Scottish salmon became the first non-French food to achieve the top Label Rouge award in France in 1992.

Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation chief executive Scott Landsburgh said: "Demand for high-quality farmed salmon is high and continues to grow despite the economic climate.

"We are delighted to be able to continue developing this very important export market and contributing to the Scottish economy."

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead will also be at the event in Belgium as part of plans to encourage more people to eat fish.

More than 1,600 industry firms from 80 countries - including 20 from Scotland - are expected at the European Seafood Exposition.

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