A series of projects across the islands which include development of new fisheries, boat repair yards, marine tourism businesses, a cockle survey and a Blue Fin Tuna Tagging and Release scheme have won backing as part of an EU aid scheme which will soon be scrapped as part of Brexit.

In total, £427,627 of grants have been awarded to 16 projects by The Outer Hebrides Fisheries Local Action Group, aiming to create the equivalent of 18 full-time jobs.

This was supported by the European Union's Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-2020 and by the Scottish Government.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Sustainable Development Committee heard details of the scheme at its meeting today (Wednesday September 23). 

Funding for all the projects must be committed by 31 December 2020 and projects completed and grant assistance claimed by 30 September 2022.

Councillor Donald Crichton, Chair of Sustainable Development said: “These grants have supported projects across the islands with a total cost of over £1.4m.

"This highlights the contribution of European funding and the requirement for a suitable replacement scheme as we leave the European Union”.

The Committee also heard details of the The Comhairle’s Fisheries Investment Scheme which has been in operation since October 2012 and has loaned over £1.5m to more than 40 applicants across the islands.

Under this scheme, loans are up to 40% of eligible project costs, subject to a maximum loan of £100,000 and are available for the purchase of fishing vessels of less than 24 metres in overall length, equipped to go fishing at sea, up to 30 years old.

Over the last six months the scheme has helped support fishing vessel investment of £1.62m with the Comhairle providing £460,000 loan funding from the Fisheries Investment Scheme.

Councillor Crichton said: “The Comhairle is committed to supporting the fishing sector particularly during the challenging economic times we face as a result of COVID and Brexit.”