Hundreds of fishing and maritime businesses which are vital to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are set to benefit from tailored support as part of a new Government scheme to protect businesses affected by coronavirus.

The Government has announced that up to £9 million in cash grants will be available to eligible fishing and aquaculture businesses in England through a fisheries support scheme.

A further £1 million will be made available to support projects to assist fishermen to sell their catch in their local communities. This money is designed to help fishing businesses find new ways to market and sell their catch while traditional markets are restricted, not only supporting the sector but also the local communities that depend on the industry.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is the one of the biggest fishing regions in the UK and plays a leading role in the English fishing sector with Newlyn being the premier fishing port in England and one of the largest in the UK. In 2018 the value of fish landed in Cornish ports was £45 million (23% of the total England catch).

The announcement has been welcomed by Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, who said: “We have been calling for tailored support for the industry and are pleased to see that government has listened.

“Fishing and the wider maritime sector are vital for our economy and the Covid-19 crisis had an immediate and severe impact with export markets gone overnight and boats having to be moored up.

“This latest step will help to protect businesses, in particular smaller businesses, as we understand that the scheme is a top-up rather than a tie up and vessels will not be hampered from fishing and selling their catch where this is possible.”

The Government has said that the eligibility criteria for the scheme will be announced in due course by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) who will administer the fund. The MMO will be contacting eligible registered owners and licence holders directly in stages with details of how to apply, starting on Monday April 20 through to early May.