The cash will be used to up-skill people in the fishing industry and attract new entrants. It comes as relations between France and the UK continue to fester over French demands for dozens of new fishing licences in British waters. But Boris Johnson’s Government which earlier this month let a deadline set by the EU for the dispute to be resolved are instead preparing for the end of the five-year-transition period which allows EU boats to take 25 percent of British fish stocks.
A Defra spokesman said: “We are now an independent coastal state, and our new status has seen us gain additional quota and resume quota exchanges.
“But we must go further. We want to level up coastal and fishing communities to make sure that they are well equipped to make the most of the opportunities ahead. This is a major investment which will create a sustainable, highly skilled workforce and a sector which offers new entrants long-term career opportunities. The schemes are the second and third installments of the £100million UK Seafood Fund designed to rejuvenate the sector.”
Earlier in the year, £24million was announced to fund cutting edge technology and trial new fishing gear to support the long-term productivity of the industry.
The new fund, part of the £100million announced to maximise the opportunities of the Trade Cooperation Agreement, will see £10million allocated to support training opportunities across the UK seafood industry to boost skills within the current workforce and address gaps in the labour market. The funding will also focus on attracting new people to the fishing industry and retaining this talent.
Sufficient skills and training are needed to ensure that the industry has the right capacity to land, process and sell additional quota – gained thanks to our exit from the Common Fisheries Policy – which will enable the sector to become more self-sustaining in the long-term.
Courses will include Maths, English, IT, fisheries management, sustainability, as well as vocational maritime qualifications and training in financial and business management. These courses will develop workforce skills, increase efficiency and encourage career progression and industry diversification.
Business management training will benefit the seafood industry by supporting workers to capitalise on new business opportunities available to the UK as an independent coastal state – this includes adding value to their catch through processing, applying for funding, or accessing new markets.
Investing in the existing workforce, whilst preparing for the future, will support the long-term sustainability of the sector and assist the UK fishing industry to adapt to new trading conditions. The announcement comes as two of the four Brexit Party MEPs to defect two years ago to help the Conservatives win the 2019 election with an 80 seat majority have questioned whether they did the right thing.
In a report card written for Express online John Longworth and Lance Forman highlighted questions over the Northern Ireland protocol and fishing industry with continued EU access to British waters as two major problems going forward. They also listed a number of other issues where they feel the Conservative Government is failing to maximise Brexit.
They said: “The Conservative claim that they are the party of business has also gone up in smoke. To them, ‘business’ is the multinationals that they interact with through the CBI. Brexit was not just about the British people, it was about British business, and that means family-run and owned enterprises that make up the backbone of the British economy.”
They went on: “The list of disappointment seems to go on and on. Cross-Channel migration is at its highest level in years, despite the Johnson government promising major crackdowns. Planning reform appears to have been shelved, despite the desperate need for more housing across many parts of the country.
“Net Zero aspirations for the future have been prioritised over energy security for the here and now and the most expensive route to net zero has been chosen, leading to the prospect of soaring bills for millions of homes.”