N. Ireland aquaculture sector to receive financial relief

N. Ireland aquaculture sector to receive financial relief

Marcus Österberg | freeimages.com

Additional financial support package will be based on income lost due to COVID-19 pandemic

Northern Ireland’s aquaculture sector will receive a financial support package of up to GBP325,000 (US$446,000) due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots announced.

In addition to the previous allocation of up to GBP360,000 in May 2020, this support package brings the total amount of funding provided by the department for the sector to GBP685,000.

Funding will be in the form of a grant payment, covering the four-month period from September 1 to December 31, 2020, and will be based on a percentage of the income lost from the sales of aquaculture products due to COVID-19.

“As a small but valuable niche market, the aquaculture sector is important to Northern Ireland, employing some 130 people and supporting our rural communities,” Poots said. “I fully recognize 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 GBP325,000 to help businesses offset these losses.”

Poots said the money will assist producers of species like mussels, oysters and trout. This package will provide financial 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 lost from the sales of aquaculture products from September through 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 three years.

The Northern Ireland aquaculture sector is valued at approximately GBP11 million annually. There are 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 Northern Ireland Executive and the European Union. The program provides around EUR20 million (US$24 million) in funding to the fishing sector (fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing) over the period 2014 to 2020.