AS Shellfish fisherman in Cornwall face financial ruin because of an EU ban on mollusc imports, the Government has announced enhanced financial support for the seafood industry with cash grants for fishing and shellfish aquaculture businesses across the UK.

The Expanded Seafood Response Fund will draw on existing £23m fund but provide cash grants for more fishing businesses

The news has been welcomed by Truro and Falmouth MP whose constituency of Falmouth and Truro has many fisherman who face losing their livelihoods and even their homes because of an EU clause that does not allow molluscs from class B waters into Europe from outside countries.

Since Brexit the UK has become what's known as a third country, with imports completely banned indefinitely, something fishermen say the government should have known about before it signed the trade deal with EU.

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In January, the Government made available £23 million for seafood exporters that suffered a financial loss because of delays related to the export of fresh or live fish and shellfish to the EU during January 2021.

Mrs Mackrory said while she welcomed the scheme she called on the Government to expand it, saying that this was not yet enough as catchers had not initially been included.

Defra say it will now be expanding the eligibility criteria to target catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses which have been affected by a reduction in demand from the hospitality sector in the UK and abroad, as well as disruption of exports to the EU. These expanded criteria will mean more businesses can get the support they need.

The scheme, which is similar to last year’s Fisheries Response Fund set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic, will open in early March, be administered by the Marine Management Organisation provide a grant payment to cover up to three months of average business fixed costs incurred between January and March 2021. It will help catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses with costs such as insurance, equipment hire and port fees.

Cherilyn Mackrory says she has been working closely with fishermen in the constituency and has taken their concerns to the government. In addition to her conversations with DEFRA Ministers, this week she will be having meetings with Michael Gove and the Prime Minister to press the case for a swift resolution to the issues.

“Our fishing and shellfish industries are facing a particularly difficult time at the moment, with the issues with the EU following Brexit, as well as market issues due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“I have been in discussion with local fishermen and shellfish businesses about their concerns and how we can address and support them, and have raised these issues in Parliament, both in the Chamber and in subsequent meetings with the Secretary of State for the Environment, neighbouring MP George Eustice and his Ministerial team at DEFRA.”

“As well as resolving the issues with the EU, which the Secretary of State is committed to, it is imperative that the Government provides continued financial support for these crucial sectors for Truro and Falmouth during this time.”

“Therefore I am pleased to see the Government come forward with this enhanced financial support for the seafood industry to help in the immediate future and encourage affected fishermen and shellfish businesses in our constituency to apply for it.”

“I will continue to push the Government to do all it can to resolve the issues with the EU around export.”

“I also hope that our continued success with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout will allow lockdown measures to relax when it is safe to do so and help reopen and boost the domestic hospitality market, providing more business for our fishermen and shellfish businesses closer to home.”