The Government has announced funding of up to £23 million to support businesses most adversely affected by the COVID pandemic and the challenges of adjusting to new export requirements.
Seafood exporters across the UK will receive government funding of up to £23 million, to support businesses which have been most adversely affected by the COVID pandemic and the challenges of adjusting to new requirements for exporting.
This is in recognition of the unique circumstances of the fishing sector, which has had the most significant new requirements to adjust to, and for whom even a short delay can lead to goods perishing - at a time when the industry is facing lower market prices and demand due to the pandemic.
The fund will be targeted at fishing export businesses who can evidence a genuine loss in exporting fish and shellfish to the EU. Support will be available immediately and paid retrospectively to cover losses incurred since 1 January 2021. The scheme will be targeted at small and medium enterprises and the maximum claim available to individual operators will be £100,000.
The Marine Management Organisation will administer the scheme on behalf of exporters across the UK. More details will be available on eligibility criteria in the coming days. The Government will be consulting industry across the UK and working with the devolved administrations on these eligibility criteria before they are confirmed.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "This £23 million scheme will provide crucial support for fishermen and seafood exporters, who have experienced delays and a lack of demand for fish from the restaurant industry in the UK and Europe.
"We are continuing to work closely with the fishing and aquaculture sectors to make sure that they are supported, and can continue to fish whilst contributing to the economies of our coastal communities."
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay said: "This further £23 million package of support will help our hardworking fishing sector navigate the challenges of the next few months.
"It is vital that no community nor region within our United Kingdom is left behind as we continue to support British jobs and build back better from the coronavirus pandemic."
In addition to funding, the UK Government will provide further support to businesses in adapting to new export processes. Defra and HMRC will be offering targeted, proactive and hands on support to fisheries exporters to help them successfully meet the new requirements. This includes a new training package and focused workshop sessions.
Seafood exports to the EU require specific procedures, customs declarations, Catch Certificates and Export Health Certificates (EHCs) and businesses have adapted to these requirements at speed. As seafood is a perishable product with a ‘just in time’ supply chain, it is important that the sector can export quickly.
The UK-EU agreement returns 25% of the EU’s catch in UK waters (worth £146m) to Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish fishermen, beginning at 15%. Increases in quota this year include key fish stocks such as North Sea cod, from 47% to 57 and North Sea hake, from 18% to 54% with a mechanism to exchange quota between the UK and EU.
The fishing industry has already been hit by the reduction in demand from the hospitality sector in the UK and other export markets as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic with market prices falling by as much as 40%. The measures announced today will therefore support the industry across the UK, during this challenging time and follow an unprecedented package of financial support already announced.