UK seafood disruption support extended to shellfish, aquaculture sectors

Seafood and aquaculture businesses previously omitted from the United Kingdom’s Seafood Disruption Support Scheme are now able to apply for some of the GBP 23 (USD 32.4 million, EUR 26.7 million) financial aid after the government extended the scheme.

The country-wide fund, initially announced on 19 January, is intended to provide financial assistance to businesses that suffered a financial loss because of delays related to the export of fresh or live fish and shellfish to the E.U. during January.

Having listened to concerns from seafood businesses, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has expanded the eligibility criteria to target catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses that have been affected by a reduction in demand from the hospitality sector in the United Kingdom and abroad, as well as disruption of exports to the E.U.

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.

U.K. Environment Secretary George Eustice said the support package recognizes the impact that COVID-19 and the end of the Brexit transition period has had on the country’s fishing and seafood sectors, with the expansion ensuring that many more businesses can benefit from it.

“The coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of critical markets, and this has been exacerbated by issues faced by exporters at the border. We will continue to ensure we are listening to our fishing and seafood industry as we work to resolve these issues, and work with them to build up the industry in the months and years ahead,” he said.

The main features of the scheme are:

  • For the U.K. catching sector, the fund will be open to under 40-meter vessel owners with fishing licences and who have a track record of fishing in the winter months;
  • The scheme will offer support to U.K. shellfish aquaculture businesses, with support provided on average ongoing costs based on full-time equivalent (FTE) employees per business. Businesses who have received a grant under the recent Seafood Producers Resilience Fund in Scotland will not be eligible for the U.K. scheme;
  • The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) will administer the fund across the United Kingdom on behalf of Defra, contacting eligible registered owners and license-holders directly with details of how to apply, starting in early March;
  • A single payment will be made to cover a proportion of fixed costs over a three-month period from January to March 2021.

The funding follows targeted support to help exporters with new processes. This includes the Seafood Exports Working Group, and the newly-established Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force.

Earlier this year, the U.K. government created a GBP 100 million (USD 140.9 million, EUR 116 million) fund to help modernize fishing fleets and the fish processing industry, in addition to GBP 32 million (USD 45.1 million, EUR 37.1 million) set aside to replace E.U. funding.

Photo courtesy of Alena Veasey/Shutterstock


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