After intense political activity, and in some quarters mounting despair, the UK Government has overnight announced a package of financial support for the English fishing industry.
Its purpose is to mitigate some of the impacts of the coronavirus health emergency by covering some of the fixed costs faced by fishing businesses, whilst facing collapsed or seriously depleted markets.
It has taken time and perseverance to make it understood within the Treasury that fishing businesses had fallen through the gaps in the otherwise massive package of support for the economy.
Initially, the Treasury were resistant to a sector specific approach, but this became politically untenable after Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales announced their own fishing industry support schemes and pressure built in coastal constituencies.The bare bones of the English scheme are as follows:
- Financial support to help cover the average fixed costs of the English fleet
- The scheme is worth £10 million
- The scheme will last for three months
- Fixed monthly amounts will be paid by the MMO on a push basis to those considered eligible (no application will be required)
- Maximum cap of £10k per vessel (comparable with the small business grants scheme)
- Within the £10 million is support for aquaculture and to encourage small coastal projects aimed at increasing domestic consumption
- Catches of a minimum of £10K in the previous year will be required to establish eligibility
- 0-6m £600 per month
- 6-8m £800
- 8-10m £2100
- 10-12m £4200
- 12-15m £7800
- 15-24m £13,700 (capped at £10K)
- Bandings are based on Seafish costs and earnings survey
- The scheme is a top-up rather than a tie-up scheme and vessels will not be hampered from fishing and selling their catch where this is a viable option