The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced a £23 million emergency fund for seafood exporters impacted by Brexit delays.
Each business will be able to claim up to £100,000 if they are able to prove “genuine loss” in exporting fish and shellfish to the EU. The scheme will be available immediately and paid retrospectively to cover losses incurred since 1st January.
Fishing firms had called on Government to offer urgent support for the UK’s seafood industry following reports of price drops and extensive delays as a result of new requirements for exporting.
Announcing the fund, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “This £23 million scheme will provide crucial support for fishermen and seafood exporters, who have experienced delays and a lack of demand for fish from the restaurant industry in the UK and Europe.
“We are continuing to work closely with the fishing and aquaculture sectors to make sure that they are supported, and can continue to fish whilst contributing to the economies of our coastal communities.”
“The announcement is certainly a step in the right direction and we will continue to work with industry, partners and Government to ensure the sector gets the proactive support it so desperately needs.”
In response to the Government’s emergency funding for the sector, Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, said: “After almost three weeks of voicing their concerns and frustrations, we welcome the fact that the Scottish seafood sector has been heard and action is being taken. While we await the full detail of the package, we know that there will be questions around the extent to which it supports the entire supply chain, from fleet to export.
“As we currently understand it, the deal offers crucial short-term assistance and includes much to be welcomed, particularly the £23 million of new funding. It is also reassuring to see that the processing sector is set to be included in future support packages. This will offer a ray of light to some small and medium sized companies that have experienced crippling losses over the past few weeks. However, larger companies and smaller shellfish boats are still vulnerable, and will be hoping that they can access support too.”
Fordyce continued: “Money will offer a much needed sticking plaster covering the losses over the last few weeks, but to completely staunch the wound, the sector still needs a period of grace during which the systems must be overhauled so they are fit for purpose. It is also essential that groupage returns to a fully operational state as a matter of urgency. The announcement is certainly a step in the right direction and we will continue to work with industry, partners and Government to ensure the sector gets the proactive support it so desperately needs.”