Fish & Fisheries News

Wednesday January 27, 2021

Making a difference when the world changed – how our Covid-19 Rapid Response Grants landed in the seafood community

“Without doubt the grant helped increase sales of fresh fish – therefore having an effect on profitability as well as introducing a new type of affordable and delicious locally caught fish into the marketplace for people to enjoy”

Amanda Pender, Director of Island Fish and RRGP recipient

In March 2020, with the sudden closure of overseas markets and the local restaurant trade, the UK’s fishing and seafood industry was thrown into chaos. Knowing the community we work to support was teetering on the brink, we acted swiftly, working with partners Seafarers UK to launch an emergency fund for fishermen, fishmongers and community groups to diversify and collaborate – to survive the financial pressures of lockdown, and to support some of the most vulnerable in their local communities.

Sea Source, in Killkeel, Northern Ireland, used RRGP funding to open a seafood hub, opening up new markets that allowed their fishermen to get back out to sea.

Our independent impact assessment is in, and we can now share key achievements of this initiative, as well as lessons learnt. Key findings include increased business resilience, job retentions, and raised profile of local seafood in local communities. Click here to read the executive summary or here for the full evaluation report.

Island Fish used their grant to purchase new equipment:

“(Our purchase) was not intended to be a panacea to combat all financial difficulties, rather it was to form part of an arsenal of tools intended to assist in making the company more profitable and better able to easily offer a greater range of fish to the local populace, visitors and businesses – this it achieved, easily and without any difficulties”

The Numbers:

  • Supported 121 beneficiaries across all 4 devolved regions of the UK
  • Enabled businesses to support jobs – 65% of recipients said that grant supported the employment of at least one individual & 57% said the grant allowed their business to keep staff in employment
  • Prevented businesses from closing – 28% of recipients said that the grant kept their business running during lockdown
  • Developed resilience in the seafood sector – 82% of recipients said that they aim to continue the elements of the business/project established in response to COVID-19

When recipients were asked about the impact that the Rapid Response Grants had, they listed:

  • Retention of jobs
  • Creation of new employment
  • Increased profits
  • Heightened links with local communities
  • Increased awareness of locally caught seafood

Lessons Learnt:

At a time when applicants were stretched and stressed, our evaluation reveals that recipients really valued the simple application form and rapid pay out of funds. We also identified that the independent help and support provided by the Fishing Animateurs, who guided anyone who asked for help through the application process, was very much valued by recipients. This provides a clear lesson on the importance of facilitators and guidance when aiming to support communities that don’t have always have a strong background in IT and form filling.

As part of our ongoing engagement and quest to better understand and work to support the seafood industry, the programme also revealed key “future needs”, we will use this new understanding of the sector will help to guide our future charitable initiatives.

Future Needs:

  • Promotion of British seafood: customers are willing to pay a premium for locally caught products
  • Support for existing distribution networks; and improvements to inland transportation
  • Improved practical training opportunities to support apprenticeships
  • Access to technical and marketing support for small businesses
  • Improvements to waste management across the supply chain

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