Qualifying seafood businesses and fishing vessel owners in the Isle of Man are to receive further financial support to help them navigate the continued challenges brought on by the effects of the pandemic on the export market demand for seafood.
A funding package of up to £285,000 has been provided, via a Scheme approved by Tynwald on the 16 June, to help the industry which has been faced with depressed market demand from the UK and Europe and increased export costs due to Brexit.
The amended Coronavirus Fisheries Industry Support Scheme (CFISS) will provide qualifying businesses and boat owners with support grants to help pay their fixed costs for a further 12 weeks, backdated to the 2 April and running until the 25 June. The scheme has now made £1.5m available to the industry since it was first launched in March of 2021.
The recent king scallop season, which provided regular work for fishermen and processors, closed on the 31 May and crews and businesses traditionally use June to prepare for the opening of the Queen Scallop season that begins in July.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:
‘Our hardworking fishermen and independent seafood businesses are an important part of the Island’s culture and economy and this support remains crucial to their survival.
‘The prolonged loss of income, reduced markets, and export challengers have put livelihoods at risk and this scheme is helping businesses to stay afloat and able to respond quickly as markets recover.
‘June is traditionally a quieter time and we hope the funding will help those eligible with cash flow, to carry out important maintenance, and to help retain crew.’
David Beard, Chief Executive at the Manx Fish Producers’ Organisation, said: ‘
‘The Fisheries Support Scheme has been invaluable to the Manx fishing industry and has helped to ensure survival in a very challenging market. Despite this, several Manx boats are now up for sale due to the severe downturn, with crew retention being one of the main issues. Continuation of this scheme is vital to ensure that we retain the necessary seafood and fishing infrastructure on the island so that, as market conditions improve, we can quickly respond.’
The industry continues to reel from a sharp fall in demand from export markets due to Covid-related restrictions, with the market price for some products falling by up to 40% since the start of the pandemic.
It is however expected that French restaurants and supermarkets, a major export market for Manx seafood, will reopen in July.