Fisheries APPG Goes Online to Brief MPs on #FishingSupport under COVID-19

The Fisheries APPG Goes Online to Brief MPs on #FishingSupport under COVID-19 

Last week, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries saw record attendance, as it hosted its first virtual event, “Support for the Fisheries Sector“, attracting over 70 participants from all over the UK.

MPs and high-level officials from across the fisheries sector met via webinar to discuss the support measures put in place to help UK seafood during the coronavirus pandemic.

Notable representatives from Seafish, the MMO, Marine Scotland, DAERA and the Welsh Government all gave presentations, briefing attendees on the support measures available across the UK and for individual countries. Sheryll Murray MP, Chair of the APPG, gave opening remarks, before handing over to David Duguid MP to chair the session.

“Our focus in recent weeks has been to collaborate with industry to help keep the fabric of the seafood supply chain intact during the coronavirus crisis, so that when this situation passes the seafood sector will be able to recover,” said Aoife Martin, Director of Operations at Seafish. She noted that Seafish’s pandemic-responsive work has included advising on direct sales, collaborating on changes to product labelling, issuing critical working certificates and transforming their industry training programme to meet needs arising from the current crisis.

Tom McCormack, CEO of the Marine Management Organisation, spoke about the measures put in place across England. “To assist our industry stakeholders, we have put together a financial and welfare support guide for the fishing industry to signpost the support announced by the Government.” The MMO is administering two funds: the Fisheries Response Fund for fishing and aquaculture businesses, and the Direct Seafood Supply Scheme to promote locally caught seafood. “The MMO has expanded its grants team and extended its opening hours to evenings and Saturdays to help advise on these grants,” he continued. “We are in regular contact with industry representatives to keep them up to speed with the help available.”

Allan Gibb, Head of Sea Fisheries at Marine Scotland, provided the Scottish perspective. “In Scotland, there are two hardship schemes covering over- and under-12m vessels, focusing mostly on the shellfish fleet, where the market impact has been the most severe. These funds allow businesses to meet their fixed costs and enable owners to keep their business afloat.” To access support, he advised members of the sector to get in touch with their affiliated association if they have one, their local Member of Scottish Parliament, or find further details on the Scottish Government website.

“In Wales, the most immediate form of financial assistance is the Welsh Fisheries Grant, which aims to support full-time vessel-owning fishers with some of their fixed costs” shared Mike Dowell, Deputy Director of the Welsh Government’s Marine and Fisheries Department. “There are also other various Welsh Government and UK Government support schemes that fishers may be eligible for.” As well as online resources, he added that industry bodies such as the Welsh Fishermen’s Association are also able to direct members to avenues of support.

Paddy Campbell, who heads up DAERA’s Sea Fisheries Policy and Grants division, spoke on behalf of Northern Ireland. “The sea fish catching sector in Northern Ireland will benefit from £1.5 million to assist with vessel fixed costs under the Sea Fish Industry (Coronavirus) (Fixed Costs) Scheme (NI) 2020. The industry can also take advantage of UK-wide schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.” For the DAERA scheme, he underscored that any eligible vessel owner who has not been contacted can get in touch at fishscheme@daera-ni.gov.uk.

When asked how the public could support UK fishing, all panelists were in agreement: buy local. “Take the time to buy locally caught seafood, either from your high-street fishmonger or via the range of direct delivery online platforms available,” said Aoife Martin. This might involve branching out into consuming less familiar species. “Developing a domestic market for species of fish and shellfish not traditionally eaten by the UK public would certainly help,” said Mike Dowell.

The event was recorded in its entirety and will soon be available on the APPG website. A detailed report will also be available in the coming weeks. The next APPG event, which will focus on innovative responses to the pandemic, is scheduled for 4 June at 3pm, and will take place via Zoom. You can email the Secretariat at secretariat@fisheriesappg.org to register.

Fisheries APPG goes online

Speakers

Aoife Martin – Director of Operations, Seafish. Aoife talked about Seafish’s support measures in place across the UK and how they can be accessed and best used.

Tom McCormack – Chief Executive Officer, MMO. Tom talked about how Defra and the MMO are supporting England’s fishing fleet through funding and grants.

Allan Gibb – Head of Sea Fisheries Division, Marine Scotland. Allan talked about Scotland’s support measures for their fishing industry and how Scottish fishermen can access and use them.

Paddy Campbell – Sea Fisheries Policy and Grants, DAERA. Paddy talked about Northern Ireland’s support measures, and how they can be accessed and best used by the Northern Irish fishing industry.

Mike Dowell – Deputy Director, Marine and Fisheries, Welsh Government. Mike talked about support measures in Wales, and how the Welsh fishing industry can access and use them.

Interviews with speakers

Note that the interview statements below are attributable to the interviewees concerned, not to the APPG on Fisheries, nor its members.

Aoife Martin, Director of Operations, Seafish

1. Broadly, what support is there available for the fishing industry?

Seafish’s focus in recent weeks has been to collaborate with industry to help keep the fabric of the seafood supply chain intact during the Coronavirus crises, so that when this situation passes the seafood sector will be able to recover. We have produced a package of advice and guidance to help industry to respond. This includes providing information on how to engage in direct sales and working with processors and retailers on temporary labelling changes to get more UK landed seafood into supermarkets; issuing critical worker certificates for fishermen and onshore employees to use during this period of restricted travel; and transforming our industry training programme to move more courses online and subsidising the cost of the courses to make it easier for people to complete core training modules.

Alongside that we have provided extensive economic analysis to support the full suite of government support schemes that have been developed and have recently launched an on-line tool that helps seafood businesses find the right support packages for their business (by type and by location).

From a marketing perspective we have been working in collaboration with Defra to promote the #SeaForYourself campaign which encourages UK consumers to try and enjoy the fantastic range of seafood that is landed daily around our coastline.

2. How would you encourage members of the fishing sector to seek support?

The Seafish website provides information on the tools and guidance that Seafish has developed but we recognise that change is constant at the moment and we are on hand to assist industry with any queries they may have. We would invite seafood businesses to contact us at seafish@seafish.co.uk to share their views on what challenges they are facing and what else Seafish can do to support the sector.

https://www.seafish.org/article/coronavirus-updates-for-the-seafood-industry

3. What can members of the public do to support the fishing industry?

That’s easy – eat more seafood but take the time to buy locally caught seafood, either from your high-street fishmonger or via the range of online platforms that list fishmongers and merchants who can deliver orders direct to your door. The Seafish consumer website www.fishisthedish.co.uk is a great source of information; where to source local seafood, how to prep it, and recipe options catering to all tastes and culinary abilities.

Tom McCormack, CEO, MMO

1. Broadly, what support is there available for the fishing industry?

To assist our industry stakeholders, we have put together a financial and welfare support guide for the fishing industry to signpost the support that has been announced by Government to assist businesses and individuals.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is administering two funds – the £9 million Fisheries Response Fund (FRF) for fishing and aquaculture businesses, and the Direct Seafood Supply Scheme (DSSS), a £1 million grant scheme for projects that will help promote the sale and consumption of locally caught seafood.

Within three weeks, MMO has already paid almost £4 million to almost 1,000 fishing businesses so far to help with their fixed costs, and we have also contacted up to 100 eligible shellfish and trout farms in the food supply chain, inviting them to apply for £1 million of grant funding towards their ongoing operating costs. This fund closes on May 22 – and MMO continues to attempt contact with those eligible businesses who have not yet responded to our application invitation. Guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fisheries-response-fund-support-for-fishing-and-aquaculture-businesses.

The DSSS is open for applications until May 11 and awards of up to £100,000 will be made from May 15. Guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-seafood-supply-scheme-dsss-how-to-apply-for-project-funding

2. How would you encourage members of the fishing sector to seek support?

MMO has expanded its grants team and extended its opening hours to evenings and Saturdays to be available to help the fishing industry apply for the grants available. We have also supported MMO colleagues in our coastal teams with information and guidance to be able to help the fishing sector take advantage of the unprecedented range of government support available, for businesses and individuals. And we are in regular contact with industry representatives to keep them up to speed with what help is there.

3. What can members of the public do to support the fishing industry?

We could (and should) all buy and eat more fish and shellfish! With the DSSS scheme now launched, the projects being supported will give the public more access to fish and shellfish that is locally caught. I would also refer you to Seafish – the organisation that is running campaigns such as Fish is the Dish encouraging people to eat at least the recommended health guidance of two portions a week: https://www.seafish.org/

Allan Gibb, Head of Sea Fisheries Division, Marine Scotland

1. Broadly, what support is there available for the fishing industry?

There are two hardship schemes covering over and under 12m vessels focussing mostly on shellfish catching where the market impact has been the most severe funds available are up to £9.5 million, based on varying criteria and eligibility. The onshore processing sector also has access to a £10 million The fund has allowed businesses’ to meet their fixed costs, to enable owners to continue to operate or to remain closed but keep their business afloat until they are able to begin production.

2. How would you encourage members of the fishing sector to seek support?

Most (though not all) are affiliated to an association and I would encourage them to operate through that route, though of course their local MSP is always there to help. The Scottish Government website has full details of all the support available in relation to direct industry intervention but also wider support and not only financial.

3. What can members of the public do to support the fishing industry?

Buy local fish, first and foremost. Encourage their supermarkets not just their fishmongers to stock Scottish caught produce, there is an abundance of high quality and variety of fish and shellfish in our waters there is no need to import particularly when our own vessels cannot readily export.

Paddy Campbell, Sea Fisheries Policy and Grants, DAERA

1. Broadly, what support is there available for the fishing industry?

The sea fish catching sector in NI will benefit from £1.5 support to assist with vessel fixed costs under the Sea Fish Industry (Coronavirus)(Fixed Costs)Scheme (NI)2020. The industry can also avail of UK wide schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

2. How would you encourage members of the fishing sector to seek support?

All eligible vessels have already been contacted and invited to apply for the NI Fixed Costs Scheme but anyone who has not been contacted can email fishscheme@daera-ni.gov.uk .

Information on the UK Government schemes can be found at the NI Department for Economy website as well as the UK Government COVID -19 websites.

3. What can members of the public do to support the fishing industry?

Many fishermen and seafood businesses have developed direct marketing channels to allow the public to buy seafood directly. Daera would urge the public to make locally caught seafood one of their weekly food items during this time and support local fishermen and seafood businesses.

Mike Dowell – Deputy Director, Marine and Fisheries, Welsh Government

1. Broadly, what support is there available for the fishing industry?

In Wales the most immediate form of financial assistance is the Welsh Fisheries Grant, which aims to support full-time vessel owning fishers with some of their fixed costs. There are also other various Welsh Government and UK Government support schemes that fishers may be eligible for. In addition to financial support we’re also looking at what else can be done with regard to trade and marketing, working with partners such as Menter a Busnes who help us promote #welshseafood.

2. How would you encourage members of the fishing sector to seek support?

2. How would you encourage members of the fishing sector to seek support?

Most (though not all) are affiliated to an association and I would encourage them to operate through that route, though of course their local MSP is always there to help. The Scottish Government website has full details of all the support available in relation to direct industry intervention but also wider support and not only financial.

3. What can members of the public do to support the fishing industry?

Buy local fish, first and foremost. Encourage their supermarkets not just their fishmongers to stock Scottish caught produce, there is an abundance of high quality and variety of fish and shellfish in our waters there is no need to import particularly when our own vessels cannot readily export.

Paddy Campbell, Sea Fisheries Policy and Grants, DAERA

1. Broadly, what support is there available for the fishing industry?

The sea fish catching sector in NI will benefit from £1.5 support to assist with vessel fixed costs under the Sea Fish Industry (Coronavirus)(Fixed Costs)Scheme (NI)2020. The industry can also avail of UK wide schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

2. How would you encourage members of the fishing sector to seek support?

All eligible vessels have already been contacted and invited to apply for the NI Fixed Costs Scheme but anyone who has not been contacted can email fishscheme@daera-ni.gov.uk .

Information on the UK Government schemes can be found at the NI Department for Economy website as well as the UK Government COVID -19 websites.

3. What can members of the public do to support the fishing industry?

Many fishermen and seafood businesses have developed direct marketing channels to allow the public to buy seafood directly. Daera would urge the public to make locally caught seafood one of their weekly food items during this time and support local fishermen and seafood businesses.

Mike Dowell – Deputy Director, Marine and Fisheries, Welsh Government

1. Broadly, what support is there available for the fishing industry?

In Wales the most immediate form of financial assistance is the Welsh Fisheries Grant, which aims to support full-time vessel owning fishers with some of their fixed costs. There are also other various Welsh Government and UK Government support schemes that fishers may be eligible for. In addition to financial support we’re also looking at what else can be done with regard to trade and marketing, working with partners such as Menter a Busnes who help us promote #welshseafood.

2. How would you encourage members of the fishing sector to seek support?

 There’s a wealth of information online but various industry bodies such as the Welsh Fishermen’s Association are also able to help signpost fishers to where support can be found.

3. What can members of the public do to support the fishing industry?

Supporting local sales of fish where they are available. Developing a domestic market for species of fish and shellfish that traditionally members of the UK public do not eat would also help – but this would certainly take time in changing consumer attitudes.

Source; Fisheries APPG

The Fisheries APPG Goes Online in a new intiative to brief MPs

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