Saturday, 6 June 2020

UK seafood funds make final COVID-19 payments

Qualifying fishing and aquaculture businesses will receive a further and final payment from the U.K. government’s GBP 10 million (USD 12.5 million, EUR 11.2 million) Fisheries Response Fund, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has announced.

Eligible businesses will be contacted by the MMO and payments will be made directly into business accounts by 15 June.

The fund, which was introduced on 17 April in response to COVID-19, has so far made payments to more than 1,200 fishing and aquaculture businesses affected by the crisis. June’s installment will be the final payment from this fund.

Funding of GBP 1 million (USD 1.3 million, EUR 1.1 million) was included for the Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme, a grant program for projects to support the sale and consumption of locally-caught fish.

This joint endeavour between the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the fishing industry, and MMO awarded grants to the first successful projects this week. The judging panel is due to review further projects on 8 June.

“We mobilised quickly to be able to put both of these funds in place and ensure the cash from the Treasury and the Maritime and Fisheries Fund was invested directly into the fishing industry at the earliest opportunity,” MMO CEO Tom McCormack said.

Meanwhile, some 128 seafood processors have received support totalling GBP 5.6 million (USD 7 million, EUR 6.3 million) from the Scottish Government’s Seafood Resilience Fund, which has now also closed to applications.

Again launched in April, the processor fund has been assisting businesses impacted by the collapse of international markets and the shutdown of the United Kingdom’s foodservice sector.

According to the Scottish Seafood Association (SSA), the speed and delivery of the resilience fund saved several businesses from failure.

“By and large, the COVID-19 shutdown affected most Scottish processors, and without the fast action of the Scottish government would have led to job losses right across the seafood supply chain,” SSA Business Manager Jimmy Buchan said. 

Stephen Thomson of East Lothian-based processor JK Thomson, which received a GBP 100,000 (USD 125,442, EUR 111,659) grant, also praised the scheme.

“I would say the timing of this fund and the speed in which it was paid – so soon after the application went in – was vital. When we filled in the application form, things appeared to be very bleak, and to know the Scottish government was behind us was very comforting, and gave us great encouragement,” he said.

Other COVID-19 funds that have been assisting the Scottish seafood industry include the Sea Fisheries Intervention Fund, to support boat owners, and the Aquaculture Hardship Fund to help shellfish and trout farmers. 

Full story courtesy of Jason Holland.