In response to ongoing and extended pressures on our fishing and seafood industry, MMO will launch the new funding support for UK fish and aquaculture businesses on behalf of Defra this week.
We will be contacting eligible fishing and aquaculture businesses in phases by email to invite them to provide their details via our online system so that we can make payments directly into their bank account. We aim to make most payments, of up to £10,000 each, to approximately 2,500 eligible fishing businesses and shellfish aquaculture farms by the end of March.
We don’t expect to miss anyone, but any business that has not heard from us by 21 March and thinks they are eligible, (see the published criteria here) will be able to submit details via the MMO website between 22 and 26 March on our website.
We are also working with applicants to the Seafood Disruption Support Scheme (SDSS) which closed last week and will be rapidly progressing payments.
Maritime and Fisheries Fund
There is an additional £800,000 available in the Maritime and Fisheries Fund for projects that make the fisheries and aquaculture sectors more sustainable and help with the conservation of the marine environment. This fund could further help England based seafood businesses that are looking to adapt their businesses to new export requirements. The MMO grants team is available to help and advise on 03300 416579.
Other financial and welfare support
We have updated our Covid guide to financial support to signpost all of the other government financial and welfare assistance available. It can be found at this link.
Our free, digital Fish Export Service (FES) is just a small part of the export journey, but we are focusing on making it as efficient as possible. With the help of user feedback, we have increased our understanding of the different ways our industry works and are making immediate improvements to help. In collaboration with a business sub-group, we are working on longer-term work to further enhance and potentially integrate with other systems across the journey. Our MMO teams continue to be on hand 24/7 to help by phone (0330 159 1989) and we continue to update our ‘one-stop shop’ signposting to all the guidance and support available.
Our onshore and at-sea coastal teams continue to support and assure fishing activity. We will resume offshore boarding and inspections this week, following the easing of lockdown restrictions and lower risk to fishers and marine officers. Since January, an increased number of socially distanced inspections have taken place at the quayside. Our offshore, aerial and satellite patrols and monitoring, along with intelligence operations, have continued to ensure no disruption to legal fishing at sea. All incursions into the UK 6-12nm zone in January and February were dealt with instantly.
Fishing vessel safety
In the interests of the safety of vessels conducting fishing operations in the vicinity of Brighton Offshore MCZ, we have published a statement of the approximate location of boulders deposited off the south coast earlier this week, drawn from information provided by Greenpeace. MMO is investigating the matter.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Our formal consultation to protect four of England’s 40 offshore MPAs is open until 28 March for all views. We are now able to create bylaws that help protect and revive important marine habitats. We want to hear from all users of the sea and work with them to come to balanced decisions for our environment and our industry, so would very much appreciate your participation.
Next steps for Studland Bay Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)
In the coming weeks, we will be hosting virtual engagement events to share information about Studland Bay MCZ and to discuss the next steps and proposed management measures for non-licensable activities. In the meantime, more information about Studland Bay MCZ can be found on our website.