£1.5 million lifeline for Northern Ireland fishing industry
A support package has been announced by DEARA for Northern Ireland’s fishing industry. Image: trawlerphotos

£1.5 million lifeline for Northern Ireland fishing industry

Northern Ireland’s Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots has announced a £1.5 million support package for Northern Ireland’s fishing industry.

The financial scheme has been announced to help support the fishing industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, after social distancing measures and the collapse of the European and domestic fish markets have made trading virtually impossible.

‘Northern Ireland’s fishing industry has faced extreme difficulties as a result of COVID-19 and is in urgent need of our support to ensure we have a profitable fishing industry to return to, once COVID-19 subsides,’ Edwin Poots said.

‘I have therefore announced a £1.5 million support package to help the fishing industry weather the storm. The scheme I’ve announced is the most far-reaching in the UK and will help the fishing fleet to cover their fixed costs for three months. It’s not an answer to everyone’s problems, but it will certainly help the fleet survive what has been one of its most difficult periods.’

The assistance will be for three months with a maximum amount of total funding per ‘undertaking’ capped at around £104,000. It will be delivered via monthly payments varying according to vessel size.

Under 10m vessels can expect £1,050 and 10.01-11.99 metre vessels get a £1800 payment. For those in the 12.00-14.99 bracket the payment is £3550 and this rises to £4550 for vessels over 15 metres. Vessels over 28 metres are not eligible for the support scheme.

This is conditional on fishing vessels being registered in Northern Ireland and normally active in the March-May period, as well as being able to demonstrate having landed fish worth not less that £10,000 during 2019. The first payments are expected to be made early in May 2020.

Vessels must be available to fish if there is a market for their product – this is not a tie-up scheme.