West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has welcomed the increased financial support for seafood and aquaculture businesses across the UK.
In January, the Government made available £23 million for seafood exporters who were suffering financial loss because of delays related to the export of fresh or live fish and shellfish to the EU; Defra has now expanded 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.
The scheme, which is similar to last year’s Fisheries Response Fund set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic, will open early next month 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.
“There’s no doubt that those working in the fishing industry here in Newlyn and around the Penwith coast have faced huge challenges over the last few months in trying to get a decent price for the fish they have caught,” said Mr Thomas, who this week chaired a meeting with Defra Secretary George Eustice and local fishermen to discuss the issues.
“This expansion of the £23 million support package will ensure many more businesses can benefit from government support.
“The coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of critical markets, both here at home and abroad, and this has been exacerbated by issues faced by exporters at the border.”
The fund will be open to under 40m vessel owners with fishing licences and who have a track record of fishing in the winter months and will also offer support to UK shellfish aquaculture businesses. The Marine Management Organisation will administer the fund across the UK on behalf of Defra, contacting eligible registered owners and licence holders directly with details of how to apply, starting in early March.