The Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs – Janet Finch-Saunders MS – has today (20 January) welcomed new financial support for the UK’s fishing businesses, as its announced that seafood exporters will receive government funding of up to £23 million. The financial support is designed to assist businesses which have been most adversely affected by the COVID pandemic and the challenges of adjusting to new requirements for exporting.
Last week, Mrs Finch-Saunders wrote to the Secretary of State for Wales - the Rt Hon Simon Hart MP - to call for urgent assistance for the shellfish sector. The support will be available immediately and paid retrospectively to cover losses incurred since 1 January 2021. The scheme will be targeted at small and medium enterprises and the maximum claim available to individual operators will be £100,000.
The Marine Management Organisation will administer the scheme on behalf of exporters across the UK. Defra say that more details will be available on eligibility criteria in the coming days, following ongoing consultations with industry and the devolved administrations.
Commenting on the support announcement, Janet said:
“Shellfish farming is a sustainable, low impact activity that has positive environmental benefits and can be compatible with most conservation designations. It is an economic lifeline for many Welsh coastal communities, creating vital job opportunities for these at-risk regions.
"This financial support scheme will be a crucial lifeline to help exporters bridge this period. This scheme, targeted at small and medium enterprises, also rightly recognises the fall in demand witnessed as a result of the global Coronavirus pandemic.
“A vitally important part of the hospitality and tourism offering in Wales is seafood, demand for which has understandably collapsed due to the closure of hotels and restaurants. This greatly impacts our fishing businesses, which tend to have very high fixed costs that cannot be avoided.
“I am incredibly pleased that the UK Government continues to work closely with the British fishing and aquaculture sectors so as to ensure that they are adequately supported through this challenging period. The provision of this UK-wide support will also ensure that no coastal community is left behind.
“This financial assistance will help to ensure that Welsh fisheries remain resilient for future generations. To ensure that this issue remains at the fore, I will continue to petition all UK bodies for clarity on the steps being taken by to help strengthen the shellfish sector in Wales in the longer term.”
Notes to Editors:
- More information on the UK Government’s financial support can be found by clicking here.