Government's fishing lifeline thrown after industry is damaged by Coronavirus lockdown

Like so many other industries the Coronavirus crisis and the lockdown to combat it has been particularly damaging for the fishing industry.

On many fishing boats social distancing for the crew can be impossible, with restaurants closed demand for catch has fallen significantly and with large amounts of fish caught off our coastline exported our fleets have also been hit by demand abroad falling and suppliers struggling to ship abroad.

Today the Government has announced £10 million worth of grants for the industry. Ministers say 1000 companies will receive direct grants to support them.

A million pounds will be available to help fishing fleets try and sell their catch (when usually shipped abroad) more locally.

Some of the most lucrative fish caught off our shores, like sardines, aren't that popular here but are in Mediterranean countries so this cash could help firms market those fish to local markets.

Ministers say this should help both the crews and boost the local economy and communities.

Since the beginning of the virus Labour has been pushing for a specific package of support for the industry.

Commenting on today's announcement Plymouth Sutton & Devonport MP and Shadow Environment Secretary Luke Pollard said: “Labour has consistently called for more support for fishing and this announcement represents a start of the support fishing deserved weeks ago. Ministers have waited too long to provide this support and there must not be any new delay in payments being made to fishers.”

Fishing is a significant industry for the West Country, Brixham brought in £36million worth of fish last year, more than any other English port with Newlyn close behind.