Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced a £360,000 emergency support package for Northern Ireland’s aquaculture sector.
The package aims to help aquaculture businesses that have experienced a significant drop in sales as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The aquaculture sector is a small but valuable niche market in Northern Ireland, employing around 131 people and supporting our rural communities. The scheme aims to assist producers of species like oysters and trout.
Announcing the emergency support package during a visit to Movanagher Fish Farm in Ballymoney Minister Poots said:
‘Northern Ireland’s fishing industry has faced extreme difficulties as a result of COVID-19 and is in urgent need of our support. I have already announced a £1.5m support package to help the fishing fleet and today I am announcing a further support package of £360,000 targeted towards the aquaculture sector.
‘The aim of the emergency package is to help this sector to continue its work in growing, harvesting, shipping and delivering to customers all over the world and help the sector to be sustainable and profitable in the long term.’
The support fund of up to £360,000 will be in the form of a grant payment, covering the three month period – 1 March to 31 May 2020 and will be based on the income lost from sales of aquaculture products due to COVID-19. Average monthly sales over the past three years for each business will be used as the baseline.
The Minister concluded:
‘This funding will help those businesses most at risk of financial ruin to survive this difficult period. My Department will inform business owners about the full details of the scheme and how to apply in due course.’