The Isle of Man Government has announced a package of financial support for Manx seafood businesses to help protect their future during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Action is required to protect the industry infrastructure, such as vessels and processing factories which, due to the immediate and devastating impacts on markets, are under threat, with many local businesses facing an uncertain future.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for the Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:
‘We are living in unprecedented times and as such our response must be quick and meaningful.
‘This support will help the Manx fishing fleet and many local seafood businesses to weather this difficult storm and prevent lasting damage to the industry for the benefit of the Isle of Man people.’
The seafood sector, including processing, is worth an estimated £20m a year on the Isle of Man and the grant scheme will make more than £370,000 available over a 12 week period, with all existing support schemes continuing as normal.
Based on a proportion of normal trading, grants will be available to eligible seafood businesses which meet the scheme criteria relating to the scale and nature of their business in buying fish and fish products in the last financial year and to the owners of appropriately licensed Manx registered vessels. Under the scheme registered owners of fishing vessels which are 12 metres or longer could receive £500 a week and those under 12 metres, £150 a week, to help pay for basic operational and maintenance costs.
Minister Boot continued:
‘The Isle of Man Government’s package of financial support will help the most vulnerable fisheries businesses in the short term, so that they can continue to provide food and employment in the long term.’
Those in receipt of financial assistance under the scheme are not prevented from fishing, although the Government strongly advises them to ensure that there is a suitable market for their catch.
Over the coming weeks the Isle of Man Government will continue to work closely with fishing industry representatives, and will keep the support package under regular review as the situation evolves.