A new grant to support fishing businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been announced by the Welsh Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.
‘We know that COVID-19 and the storms earlier this year have caused significant difficulties for the fisheries sector,’ the minister said, commenting that fishing has been hit especially hard as exports and domestic markets have shut due to the public health crisis.
‘Fishing is a hugely important part of the Welsh food and drink sector, and it sustains livelihoods and communities across our coasts. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit exports and internal markets incredibly hard, leading to many in the sector facing the loss of their livelihoods, and the permanent closure of their businesses.’
Lesley Griffiths said that existing support for the wider business sector is often based on factors such as the rateable value of fixed premises, or the amount of members of staff employed – but these often don’t apply to fishing businesses.
The new support announced by the Welsh Government is a targeted grant for vessel-owning fishing businesses, to ensure they are able to cover their costs during this difficult time. The grant will help cover fixed costs associated with owing a fishing vessel and will be based on the size of vessel owned.
The grant is to be calculated by vessel size, with a maximum payment of £10,000 to ensure synergies with the Economic Resilience Fund. The grant will be open to all active seafood businesses with Welsh-licensed vessels and recorded sales of £10,000 or more in 2019, and all eligible fishermen will be provided with a one-off payment. Eligible fishing businesses should first register online with Rural Payments Wales (RPW) prior to the application process opening.
‘This will be a period of uncertainty for many in the sector, and that’s why we want to ensure we could support them as they face unavoidable costs. Action is now required to protect the future of the Welsh fishing businesses and the social fabric of our fishing communities which, due to the immediate and devastating impacts on markets, is now under threat,’ Lesley Griffiths said.
‘The support provided will help those eligible to cover their costs during this difficult time, and ensure Wales has a competitive fishing sector once this crisis has passed.’