Newhaven MP Maria Caulfield has welcomed news that the Government is to support fishing businesses with a new £10 million support package.
More than 1,000 fishing and aquaculture businesses in England will receive direct cash grants through a fisheries support scheme announced by the Government.
The latest step to protect businesses affected by coronavirus mean that up to £9 million will be available for grants to eligible fishing and aquaculture businesses and a further £1 million will be made available to support projects to assist fishermen to sell their catch in their local communities. This money will help fishing businesses find new ways to market and sell their catch while traditional markets are restricted, not only supporting the sector but also the local communities that depend on the industry.
Because the majority of fish they catch is usually destined for export, the English fishing fleet which catches fish stocks such as hake, scallops and crab, has been hit by the closure of traditional export markets and the reduction in demand from the hospitality sector.
The support scheme – which will run for up to three months – takes action to meet the immediate needs of the industry by helping English fishing and aquaculture businesses with their fixed costs such as such as insurance, equipment hire and port costs.
The measures will support English industry, in particular smaller fisherman, during this challenging time and follow an unprecedented package of financial support already announced for small businesses.
The main features of the scheme are:
• For the catching sector, the fund will be open to under-24m vessel owners with fishing licences registered in England who recorded sales of £10,000 or more in 2019.
• Grants will be made to help cover fixed business costs. For the catching sector this will be calculated from the average business costs for the size of the vessel, as surveyed by the industry annually.
• Details of the eligibility criteria, including the criteria for the aquaculture sector and support for local projects, will be announced in due course by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
• The MMO will administer the fund, contacting eligible registered owners and licence holders directly in stages with details of how to apply, starting on Monday April 20 through to early May.
• Payments will be made for up to three months.
Maria Caulfield MP said “I am in regular contact with the fishing businesses in Newhaven and I am pleased that the Government is now going to be helping them directly with access to a part of this £10 million of funding. Many of them are now also helping the local community by delivering fish to the homes of vulnerable or elderly people. Newhaven’s fishing fleet are a credit to the town and deserve this support.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice MP said “This £10 million scheme will provide a lifeline for more than 1,000 fishing businesses so they can continue to maintain and operate their boats during this challenging time, which has seen falling prices and lack of demand for fish from the restaurant industry. We are continuing to work closely with the fishing and aquaculture industry to ensure that they are supported and can get back to their vital role of providing fish for the table while contributing to the economy of many of our coastal communities.”