Post-Brexit support fund for fishing industry expanded

The fishing industry will be able to draw on more support as it deals with post-Brexit export issues and the impact of coronavirus, UK ministers say.

The catch from the stern trawler 'Nicola Anne' is graded before sale in the fish market at Sutton Harbour in Plymouth. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

Cash grants are being made available for more fishing businesses as criteria for a support fund are being expanded.

These will draw on a £23 million fund announced in January to help seafood exporters who were struggling to get produce to their usual markets in the EU.

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The fishing industry has also been hit by a drop in demand from the hospitality sector.

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A new UK-wide scheme, similar to last year’s Fisheries Response Fund, will open in early March.

Earlier this month, a taskforce made up of the UK Government, the Scottish Government and the seafood industry met to discuss the way forward.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “Our fishermen are at the heart of many of our coastal communities and we recognise the impact of coronavirus and the end of the transition period on them.

“This expansion of our £23m support package will ensure many more businesses can benefit from Government support.

“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.”

The scheme will involve a single payment that covers a portion of fixed costs over a three-month period from January to March.

Scotland Office minister David Duguid said: “Over the last few months, we have been listening to the seafood industry and have continued to monitor the impacts that the pandemic and export disruption has played on prices, exports and the market.

“I am confident in the quality of Scottish fish and seafood but for many fishing businesses the lack of demand in the hospitality trade in the UK and further afield has had a real impact on market prices.

“While we continue to take steps to beat this virus and work with the sector to resolve export issues, this expanded support scheme will help the many small and medium-sized fishing businesses that support so many of our coastal communities.”

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