Helping fishermen access essential safety and vessel modernisation funding
European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is a significant source of funding for fishermen as it can provide up to 80% of the cost of modernising fishing vessels and purchasing safety equipment.
To access the funding, the EMFF requires fishermen to pay the upfront cost of expenditure prior to submitting a claim for reimbursement costs, a requirement which not all fishermen are able meet. This can be also problematic for fishermen operating on tight budgets and slim profit margins as there can be a period of 12 or more weeks prior to the expense claim being processed by the EMFF.
Seafarers UK, in partnership with Trinity House and The Fishmongers’ Company, has funded a team of animateurs to support UK fishermen access funding and business support and Seafarers UK has been able to award a grant of £20,000 to provide a Fishers Loan Fund at the Credit Union. Fishermen who are in receipt of a grant offer letter from the EMFF are able to access a loan from Kernow Credit Union to cover the upfront cost of expenditure. Once the EMFF has reimbursed the fisherman, the Credit Union loan is repaid, and the money is then returned to the Loan Fund and is available to help another fisherman access EMFF funding.
The EMFF’s requirement for upfront expenditure has been described by Chris Ranford, one of the team of animateurs, as ‘a big barrier for fishermen who wish to access grant funding’. Many small scale coastal fishermen experience financial insecurity caused by their vulnerability to the weather, tides, fluctuating fuel prices, and of course the size and price of the catch. This can make it difficult for fishermen to demonstrate a regular pattern of income sufficient to meet the lending requirements of many mainstream lenders such as banks.
To date the animateurs have received over 500 enquiries from fishermen, submitted 82 grant applications to the EMFF and successfully obtained £1.75m of grant support for projects with a total value of £2m.
‘Saving for a Stormy Day’ is a short film which has been produced by the Animateurs to explain Kernow Credit Union’s Fisheries Loan Fund to fishermen in Cornwall.
This innovative approach to providing bridging loans for EMFF applicants has also been taken up by the Dorset and East Devon Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG). The FLAG approached Seafarers UK for a £20,000 grant award to establish a similar Fisheries Loan Scheme at Wyvern Credit Union based in Dorchester. Seafarers UK would like to establish loan guarantee schemes to support access to EMFF grants for fishermen more widely through other credit unions in coastal areas. If you are from a FLAG or a coastal credit union that would like to offer your services to your local fishing community, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out if there is a credit union in the area that you live or work in: https://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk/