Northern Ireland fisheries minister Edwin Poots has launched a grants support scheme for local fishing businesses worth £1.9m.

The Maritime and Fisheries Fund for Northern Ireland replaces the now fully committed European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The new funding, designed to deliver benefits to fishermen, processing and aquaculture businesses, port authorities, inland fishers and stakeholders with environmental interests, is available until 31 March next year.

Announcing the new funding during a visit to Portavogie, Minister Poots said: “I am pleased to announce the opening of the £1.9m Maritime and Fisheries Fund (Northern Ireland) with immediate effect. As the funding has been provided by HM Treasury as a ‘one-year settlement’ only, I would encourage stakeholders to engage with my department promptly in order that applications can be submitted as soon as possible, as this funding must be utilised by 31 March, 2022.

“During my visit to Portavogie harbour, I have seen the benefits of such schemes to our local fishermen and businesses, such as investing in new machinery and infrastructure, which in turn enables them to continue to remain competitive within the industry during these challenging times.”

He added: “My department will be delivering this scheme in tandem with the development of a five-year strategy for future fisheries support from April 2022 onwards which will be reflective of the current focus on sustainability, green growth, blue economy, resilience and adapting to the post-Brexit landscape.”

The 2021/22 support is similar to the previous EMFF funding programme in terms of making applications, and aims to support safer fishing initiatives, investments onboard vessels, innovative projects and processes, marketing initiatives and research, more selective fishing gear and practices, and ports infrastructure developments, as well as investment by fish processors and aquaculture operations.

Further information on the scheme and how to apply is available on the DAERA website at: bit. ly/3aycidI or by contacting the DAERA Fisheries Grants Unit.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.

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