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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Sea Fisheries Hardship Fund (tranche 2) - application form

Published: 17 Apr 2020

Application form for the second tranche of the Sea Fisheries Hardship Fund set up to provide emergency hardship support for shellfish fishing vessels over 12m in length.

17 Apr 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Sea Fisheries Hardship Fund (tranche 2) - application form

£3.5m for the over 12m fishing fleet was announced by the Scottish Government as part of the COVID-19 response.

This new tranche of funding will benefit around 220 Scottish vessels landing shellfish such as crab, lobster, scallop and langoustine. Payments are being made to help vessels meet fixed costs like mooring fees and insurance and will be made as follows:

  • up to £21,370 per vessel to businesses with a vessel over 12m
  • for businesses operating more than one vessel payments will be capped at £42,740
  • funding amounts will be graduated by fleet segment and length
  • vessel costs are sourced from the most recent Seafish fleet economic time series estimates, version March 2020.


If you own a fishing business that has been impacted by COVID-19, you may be entitled to financial support from the Sea Fisheries Intervention Fund, which offers financial support for eligible vessels under 12m and over 12m. Below are some answers to common questions about the fund for vessels over 12m.

What support is available for the fishing industry during the COVID-19 crisis?

The Scottish Government is making available £22.5m in financial support to the seafood industry. This consists of:

  • Up to £3.5m to the over-12m shellfish sector
  • Up to £6m to the under-12m shellfish sector
  • Up to £3m to trout and shellfish aquaculture, and
  • Up to £10m to the onshore fish processing sector.

Who is eligible for the new scheme?

The over 12 metre fleet support scheme is open to active Scottish registered and licensed vessels over 12 metres creel vessels, scallop vessels and Nephrops trawlers, where Nephrops consists of more than 50% of the value of their earnings in 2019.

These vessels are identified as suffering the greatest hardship in terms of loss of markets. Vessels fishing for whitefish and pelagic species are excluded from this support on the basis that whitefish vessels still have access to markets (although these are reduced) and pelagic vessels generally don’t require any additional support (and in any case are tied up at this point in the year).

Like the under 12m scheme, vessels must have made a minimum of £20,000 landings in 2019 to be eligible. Landings are calculated using the information we hold internally from electronic log books.

What types of business can get support for vessels over 12m?

This funding will benefit around 220 Scottish vessels landing shellfish such as crab, lobster, scallop and langoustine/nephrops. Langoustine/nephrops trawl is defined as a trawler whose income by value is generated by more than 50% nephrops.

Do you use overall or registered length to determine fund eligibility?

We are using overall length to define eligibility for both tranches of funding. Those vessels who are registered as under 12m, but which have an overall length of over 12m will be considered under this new tranche of funding for over 12m vessels, including those making appeals against the original scheme for vessels less than 12m. This will ensure consistency of approach between the two schemes.

What is this money for?

The scheme will provide a one-off grant payment to cover recurring fixed costs, such as insurance, hire & maintenance of electronics / safety equipment, and harbour dues, for the three month period March to May. We expect vessel owners to use this funding to also support any crew. After this point share fishermen who are classed as self-employed should, like other self-employed persons, be in receipt of their self-employed support from the UK Government.

Do I have to fill in an application form?

Eligible vessels have been sent an application form to complete. If you have not been sent a form but think you might be eligible, contact

I have not been sent a form to apply for the fund. What should I do?

If you think you are eligible for support and have not already been sent a form, contact

How do vessels know if they are eligible?

Landings have been calculated using the information we hold internally from electronic log books, and this has been combined with vessel ownership records to enable the Scottish Government to identify those who are eligible. We have subsequently written to all eligible vessel owners to offer funding.

What do I do if the landings figures you have recorded for my business don’t reflect the true number?

We are using recorded landings data which we have at a very granular level of detail for our analysis. If you have been recording and declaring your landings correctly then this should be reflected in the figures we hold. If you believe that your landings are higher than the figures we can consider this on a case by case basis.

What is the referrals / appeals process?

Fishing businesses can apply for consideration under the referrals process, whereby officials consider additional information supplied by vessel owners who didn’t appear to be immediately eligible for funding. Officials are working extremely hard to get through the referrals cases they have, which has been made more difficult due to the very high levels of correspondence they have been dealing with.

When will payments be made?

We have written to vessels eligible for the new scheme. Once application forms have been received, necessary checks have been carried out and information gathered, payments will be made within days.

Will I have to pay the money back?

It is our intention that this fund will act as a grant. However, this is a fast moving environment with new support being announced day by day; if new streams of funding achieving the same outcomes are subsequently announced by the UK or Scottish Governments, then to allow us to redirect that money to other people in need elsewhere in the current emergency, we are likely to ask you to repay some or all of this grant.

How much will my grant be?

The grant amount an individual will receive is defined by fleet segment and length, as outlined in Table 1 below. Up to £21,370 will be granted per vessel to businesses with a vessel over 12m. Payments will be capped at £42,740 for businesses operating more than one vessel.

Table 1: Grant breakdown by fleet segment and length category for over 12m vessels

Over 12 Metre Fleet - Hardship Support Scheme

Vessel Category


Monthly Fixed Costs per vessel (000's)

Grant Payment - Three Month Fixed Costs (000's)

Nephrops trawlers





12-15 m




15-18 m




18-24 m




Above 24 m



Scallop dredgers





12-15 m




15-18 m




18-24 m




Above 24 m








12-15 m




15-18 m




18-24 m




Above 24 m



Where are vessels cost sourced?

Vessel costs are sourced from the most recent Seafish fleet economic time series estimates, version March 2020. Calculations are based using the mean 2016 and 2017 cost and earnings annual returns adjusted for inflation to 2019 prices.

I own more than one vessel. Can I claim multiple times?

Please note that one grant is provided per business. This means that if a business owns more than one vessel, or is the parent company of other companies that own vessels, that business is only eligible to apply once under this scheme.

Payments where a business or individual holds the majority shares in more than one vessel shall be capped at a maximum of £42,740 and will be graduated by fleet segment and length category, as detailed in Table 1.

Can I still fish?

Yes. This funding will see vital cash going to vulnerable fishing businesses as quickly as possible to avoid bankruptcies and enable fishers to continue to fish to even limited markets, especially here in the UK but keeping the vital supply of food continuing.

Can I land into local markets?

Yes. No special provision is required to enable vessels to supply local markets. The Register of Buyers and Sellers scheme is primarily used to cross check transactions such as direct supply of small quantities to local hotels and Bed and Breakfasts. There is no onus on the buyer to do anything if the quantity purchased is below 25kg.

The fund only provides support for three months. What am I supposed to do after this point?

The Sea Fisheries Intervention Fund will act as a temporary support measure offering immediate hardship payments to businesses that cannot access the UK business grant scheme for land based operators and to take them to a point thereafter where they should begin to be in receipt of the self-employed payments expected in June.

Will taking alternative employment during COVID impact my grant?

As long as any alternative employment is short-term and does not constitute a full time living, it should not affect payment of your grant.

Have you discussed the fund with industry representatives?

We have worked closely with industry representatives including SAFPO, CIFA, SWFPA, WIFA and the SFF to identify the most vulnerable sectors requiring support.

What other support is available?

Some other packages of support from the Scottish and UK Government’s may help.

The Scottish Government has opened applications for a £100m package of additional grant support for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and newly self-employed people. Details of this and other additional support can be found on the Scottish Government’s new website

If you require tailored advice you can also call the Scottish Government’s business helpline on 0300 303 0660. It is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm. Select option 1 to speak to the HMRC self-employment Coronovirus helpline or option 5 to speak for general enquiries.

The UK Government has announced support for the self-employed who have been affected by the coronavirus. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply with payments expected from June.

Will more funding be announced?

We anticipate that there will be no further rounds of funding available directly to the fishing industry in Scotland to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19, in advance of self-employment payments from the UK Government.

Why are you only supporting a limited section of the over 12m fleet?

The over 12m fund will support Nephrops trawlers, scallop dredgers, and creel boats. These businesses are all dependent on income from shellfish, of which the export and restaurant and hospitality markets have suffered a near total collapse.

Shellfish markets are predominantly abroad, and to the restaurant and hospitality trades, which have all closed, with export opportunities stopped overnight and little resilience (or space) to simply buy and store product in cold stores.

We know that other sectors are still finding limited, although significantly reduced market opportunities, and are not identified as in immediate need

This funding will act as a temporary support measure to offer immediate hardship payments to businesses that cannot access the UK business grant scheme for land based operators and to take them to a point thereafter where they should begin to be in receipt of the self-employed payments expected in June. 

Crew on whitefish and pelagic vessels should also be able to access these self-employed payments from June.

What support is available to the whitefish sector?

Crew on whitefish vessels will be able to access self-employed payments from the UK Government, which are expected to begin in June.

Why is there a minimum earning threshold of £20,000 to be eligible for support from the Sea Fisheries Intervention Fund?

The £20,000 threshold is intended to ensure that only full time fishers are eligible.

This threshold was initially developed in 2014 for the Scottish Creel Support Fund. The rationale was that, following costs associated with the vessel and fishing activities, the profits made on an income of less that £20,000 are unlikely to sustain a fishing business as a full-time occupation. It was therefore agreed by the Scottish Government and industry representatives that £20,000 was a fair cut-off for full-time fishers in 2014 and again in 2020.

Why is there a difference between the Scottish scheme and the schemes operational in NI, Wales and England?

Other administrations have chosen a threshold income of £10,000 to be eligible for support and this is a decision for them to make based on their own criteria and the specific nature of their fleets.

The Scottish Government has been quick to respond to the needs of industry and has worked closely with industry representatives to identify the most vulnerable sectors requiring support. We have determined fund criteria based on the nature of Scotland’s fleet to enable us to support those whose markets have almost completely collapsed. In addition for the £9.5 million Sea Fisheries Intervention Fund which supports the shellfish sector, we have a £10 million assistance fund for seafood processors and have developed a hardship fund of £3 million to support shellfish growers and trout farmers in the aquaculture sector.

Does the money go to the owners/ crew/ skippers?

Funds will be paid directly to vessel owners. We expect owners to use this funding to support any crew as appropriate, taking into consideration the support in place for the self-employed.

Does having a second job mean I can’t claim?

The Scottish Government have identified those vessels under the most immediate pressure and who are at risk of failing because of COVID-19. The eligibility criteria used to identify these vessels are detailed below. It is important that this initial support goes to those who need it most and make a living wholly or predominantly from the sea. As a result only those fishing businesses with annual earnings above £20,000 will be eligible, which is a threshold we have used in previous schemes. Therefore having a second job would not automatically disqualify you from the scheme, as long as the criteria are met.

Will taking alternative employment during COVID impact my grant?

As long as any alternative employment is short-term and does not constitute a full time living, it should not affect payment of your grant.

What information should I be declaring in Annex B?

Following the outbreak of Coronavirus, the European Commission has adopted a Temporary Framework allowing aid to be granted to help businesses and sole traders in this difficult time.

Under these temporary rules the maximum aid that an undertaking can receive is €120,000. An undertaking means an enterprise or business. Where one business (A) owns or controls another business (B), A and B are considered to be one single undertaking.

The cap of €120,000 is cumulative, so aid you receive from different schemes set up under the Temporary Framework must be added together. For example, you would not be eligible for funding under this scheme if you have already received €120,000 under the Scottish Government’s sea food processors hardship fund. Please note that funding schemes under the Temporary Framework may be provided by the Scottish Government, the UK Government, local authorities or other public authorities, and funding from any one of these bodies (under the Temporary Framework) counts towards the €120,000 limit.  

In applying for this funding you must:

  • Set out if the undertaking has made any separate application for funding in the current coronavirus outbreak with relevant details.
  • Declare any award or application under this fund to any other aid awarding body who requests information from you on how much aid you have received.
  • Retain documentation relating to this aid for four years after the conclusion of the UK’s transition from the EU and produce it on any request from the UK public authorities or the European Commission.

So, if you request funding under this initiative, you will need to declare this in any application for aid from a separate fund and vice versa.

This aid is in addition to any aid that you may be have received under the De Minimis regulation ( ) allowing aid of up to €30,000 to any one undertaking over a three fiscal year period (i.e. your current fiscal year and previous two fiscal years), and any other approved aid you have received under other State aid rules, such as aid granted under the Fisheries Block Exemption Regulation ( ). 

You do not need to provide information about aid provided under the de minimis Regulation or the Fisheries Block Exemption Regulation. Annex B only requires you to provide information about aid received under the Temporary Framework. For further information please contact Marine Scotland.

Please see Annex B of the application form for more details.

Do I need to comply with social distancing rules on board?

The Scottish Governments most up to date advice : clearly states that Food is part of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) but not everyone and everything within a sector is deemed “critical”. Shellfish and sea fishing is clearly a key element of the food chain and therefore falls under this definition of CNI.

But all businesses also need to consider a key set of questions – and at all times work on the precautionary basis.

  • Is what you do essential or material to the effort against the virus or to the wellbeing of society?
  • if so, can your staff work from home?
  • if not can you practise safe social distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements.

The government guidance is clear that if the answer to none of these questions is yes, then you should close. However, for those fishing businesses who do feel they can answer yes to at least the 3rd question, then they need to ensure safe social distancing which is 2m distance between employees – that may involve changing the business model and approach.

However in the event that businesses consider they can still operate safely, there are other clear considerations and actions they should take.

  • Travel to and from the vessel should be done in accordance with social distancing advice.
  • 2 metre separations should be maintained as rigorously as is practically possible.
  • Vessel operators should have a critical assessment of operations and ensure only the bare safe minimum of critical crew for operations are together on-board. This may result in shorter trips, different fishing grounds or other considerations you see fit to enable changed working practices.
  • There is neither a compulsion to go to Sea nor is there one to tie up. You must review your business operation and make the best decisions for you and the safety of your crew.

This is the most up to date advice but given these fast moving times is subject to change and adjustment. But what will not change is the priority issue at the heart of the government’s guidance and requirements of all businesses – please help us to protect people’s lives. And if you cannot operate your business with as much confidence as possible that you are not putting people’s lives at risk from coronavirus, then you should close.

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