The Isle of Man Government is working closely with the seafood industry to explore support options in light of the obstacles it is facing since the UK exited Europe on 1 January.
The Island’s seafood sector, including processing, is worth around £20m a year, however the combined effects of new Brexit rules and the ongoing pandemic have put businesses under increased pressure and impacted markets.
Exports of fresh fish and seafood have been disrupted due to new administration requirements, restrictions on normal working practices due to Coronavirus, and reduced export market demand - however these challenges are being worked through with some success.
The Isle of Man Government is following the situation in the UK closely, and in Scotland particularly with its large fishing and seafood interests, where many small businesses are claiming the new post-Brexit rules are affecting their livelihood.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:
‘The seafood sector is extremely important to the Island and the combined impact of the UK’s exit from Europe on top of the pandemic has presented obstacles that must be overcome.
‘It is a rapidly evolving situation and we are actively considering the requirement for financial support and we are working with businesses to help.'
Currently, the Island’s catching and processing sectors continue to operate, although there are some challenging constraints on processing businesses due to the restrictions imposed during the Island’s second lockdown.
The Isle of Man Government has reintroduced a number of support schemes for workers and businesses including the Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance (MERA) and Coronavirus Business Support Scheme that are available to those in the sector who are eligible.
During the first lockdown a package of specific financial support was made available to seafood businesses. This support was extended twice to provide an overall package that lasted for nine months in 2020.