Funding for the UK Seafood Sector
Employing almost 15,000 people and worth over £3bn per annum, the UK seafood industry has seen significant challenges and changes to trade over recent years as a result of the pandemic and Brexit. New trading requirements and logistical challenges have caused delays and interruption to supply and manufacturing, with live bi-valve mollusc producers in class B and C waters now unable to sell into EU markets at all. A key disruptor is simply the additional documentation and time that has been added to the export process. For live fish exporters this has impacted their ability to control quality of produce on arrival. Many prior live fish exporters are looking to domestic markets instead, targeting supermarkets, hospitality operators and even direct sales channels to end users.
A raft of funding sources has been introduced for the sector to help weather the changes to the industry and ensure its evolution and sustainability moving forward. In this article we introduce these funds, their availability and application processes.
The UK Seafood Fund
Aiming to support the long-term future and sustainability of the seafood sector and UK fisheries, the UK Seafood Fund is set at £100m and is split into 3 key funding streams.
UK Seafood Fund: Science & Innovation
Some £24m has been allocated towards science and innovation within the overall fund. This is split between the Fishing Industry Science Partnerships (FISP) scheme and the Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF).
The FISP scheme funds collaboration projects between the fishing/seafood sector and research organisations to gather data and insight that will improve knowledge within fisheries and aquaculture. Applicants must either bid for a contract or apply for a grant. Contracts of up to £300k can fund full research projects (Part B) and grants of up to £20k can fund research proposals (Part A). Applicants have until 12pm on 25th April 2022 to apply through the Defra BRAVO portal for Part A grants. Applications for full research contracts (Part B) have just opened and the deadline to apply is Monday 16th May 2022. A further bid round is planned for this August.
Find out more information and how to apply for the FISP scheme.
The Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF), set up independently in 2019, aims to support R&D and disruption in the sector and is now part of the UK Seafood Fund after having been initially administered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Cefas) on behalf of Defra.
Find out more information about the Seafood Innovation Fund https://www.seafoodinnovation.fund/
UK Seafood Fund: Infrastructure
Some £65m in grants is available through the infrastructure stem of the UK Seafood Fund, with the aim of supporting projects that increase capacity within the UK fishing industry supply chain. Developments in ports, processing or aquaculture infrastructure can all be supported through the scheme.
The Defra-administered scheme awards between £250k – £5m to successful applicants, though the scheme is very competitive, with applicants required to bid for a grant in order to receive funding.
You can apply for the infrastructure scheme if you are a; business, organisation, charity, trade association, public body/authority focused on ports or sustainability of fisheries, a consortium or an officially recognised producer organisation and you are involved in fishing, seafood processing or aquaculture.
Applications for the Infrastructure scheme open at the end of March 2022.
UK Seafood Fund: Skills & Training
With the aim of bringing and retaining talent into the seafood sector, the Skills & Training arm of the UK Seafood fund has up to £10m to support skills and training, with the improvement of existing courses and the development of new courses both within the scope of the scheme.
Operating as a competitive challenge fund, any bid should offer training for existing and/or new seafood industry workers.
Eligible organisations include those who can provide training to people working in the UK seafood industry, operating in the sector (including catching, processing and aquaculture). Full criteria can be found here Skills and Training Scheme assessment criteria.
New courses should fill current gaps in training provision for the sector, or supplement that already on offer.
Improvement of existing courses should show tangible improvement such as accreditation, increased reach of participants or alignment of courses with up-to-date legislation.
All courses must show how they will be widely accessible and capable of reaching a wide audience.
Bids can be submitted from April 2022.
Find out more and how to bid for funding under the Skills and Training Scheme.
MSC Ocean Stewardship Fund
This is a £1m fund, controlled by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and available to marine businesses across the world.
Available for financial year 2021/2022, the aim of the fund is to increase the number of sustainable fisheries, including those small-scale fisheries part of the In-Transition to MSC (ITM) programme, those implementing improvements or progress verification.
For more information visit the MSC website
Fisheries and Seafood Scheme (FaSS)
Run by the Marine Management Organisation, this £6.1m fund is for marine businesses in England.
Eligible projects include those that promote sustainable growth within the catching, processing and/or aquaculture sectors and those that protect and enhance the marine environment.
This scheme has just come to an end, with any funded work required to be completed by 31st March 2022.
Our team is experienced in the seafood sector and knowledgeable on available funding.