UK Government announces increased support for fishing and shellfish businesses
The UK Government has announced enhanced financial support for the seafood industry with cash grants for seafood and aquaculture businesses across the UK.
In January, the Government made available £23 million for seafood exporters that suffered a financial loss because of delays related to the export of fresh or live fish and shellfish to the EU during January 2021.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will now be expanding the eligibility criteria to target catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses which have been affected by a reduction in demand from the hospitality sector in the UK and abroad, as well as disruption of exports to the EU. These expanded criteria will mean more businesses can get the support they need.
The scheme, which is similar to last year’s Fisheries Response Fund set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic, will open in early March and provide a grant payment to cover up to three months of average business fixed costs incurred between January and March 2021. It will help catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses with costs such as insurance, equipment hire and port fees.
The funding follows targeted support to help exporters with new processes. This includes the Seafood Exports Working Group, meeting twice a week to troubleshoot issues raised by the industry; and a newly established Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force.
The UK fishing and seafood sector is also set to benefit from significant government investment with a £100 million fund to help modernise fishing fleets, the fish processing industry, and rejuvenate an historic and proud industry in the UK, on top of the £32 million that will replace EU funding this year.
The Government has said it also continues to seek urgent resolution to export issues, including the EU ban on the import of class B live bivalve molluscs and will explore further ways producers can continue to export this valuable seafood.
UK mussels and oysters are highly sought after, at home and abroad. The sector has been highly impacted by Covid restrictions, and now barriers to trade imposed by the EU.