Northern Ireland’s aquaculture sector is to receive a further financial support package of up to £325,000 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced.
In addition to the previous allocation of up to £360,000 in May 2020, this further support package brings the total amount of funding provided by the Department for the sector to £685,000.
Funding will be in the form of a grant payment, covering the four month period from 1 September to 31 December 2020 and will be based on a percentage of the income lost from the sales of aquaculture products due to Covid-19.
Announcing the package, Minister Poots said: “As a small but valuable niche market, the aquaculture sector is important to Northern Ireland, employing some 130 people and supporting our rural communities. I fully recognise the financial impacts the sector has suffered throughout the pandemic with the lack of demand for aquaculture products in the hospitality sector both here and further afield impacting sales and market prices. Today, I am pleased to announce a further support package of up to £325,000 to help businesses offset these losses.”
Minister Poots explained: “This Scheme is similar to the previous one I announced in May 2020 and aims to help eligible businesses that have experienced a significant drop in sales as a result of the pandemic. It will assist producers of species like mussels, oysters and trout. The Department will inform business owners about the full details of the Scheme and how to apply in due course.”
Notes to editors:
- The Northern Ireland aquaculture sector is a small but valuable niche market supporting rural economies, valued at approximately £11 million annually. There are currently approximately 28 active aquaculture producers and the sector employs around 130 people. The main species cultivated are mussels, oysters, salmon and trout.
- The Scheme will be delivered under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-20, co-funded by the NI Executive and the European Union. The Programme provides around €20m in funding to the fishing sector (fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing) over the period 2014 to 2020.
- This package of financial support will provide support to the most vulnerable aquaculture businesses and payments will be made directly to eligible businesses.
- Eligible aquaculture producers will receive up to 50% of their ‘income foregone’ (income lost) from the sales of aquaculture products during the 4 month period, 1 September to 31 December 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The amount granted will be based on the average monthly revenue from the sales of aquaculture products over the previous 3 years.
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