Coronavirus updates for the seafood industry

COVID-19 is affecting our lives and businesses ways none of us have ever experienced before. We’re working to support UK businesses across the seafood sector in this extremely challenging time.

Last updated: Friday 3 April 2020

Stay up to date

As the situation evolves, it’s important that everyone is aware of the latest advice from the UK Government and the health information from the NHS.

We’re sharing updates with industry, to receive regular e-alerts sign up to our The Catch newsletter.

Seafish work and priorities

Understanding the full impact on the UK seafood sector
We’re asking businesses throughout the seafood supply chain to share information on how you are being affected and how you are responding. This is being used to inform weekly updates for government. All business information is being treated confidentially. To provide information get in touch with anybody at Seafish or email

Maintaining Seafood Supply
Our teams are also looking at ways to help maintain seafood supply. As part of this work we have produced guidance for fishermen and fish vans on selling directly to consumers.

Promoting Seafood to Consumers
We’re supporting Defra’s #SeaForYourself - marketing campaign which aims to get more UK consumers to eat more seafood caught in UK waters. We’re also sharing content from Fish is the Dish on how consumers can buy fish and providing guidance on how they can prepare and cook species they might not be familiar with. 

Keeping you informed
Over the coming weeks we’ll also be sharing vlogs from our staff, talking about how we’re working to support industry and sharing advice and guidance – watch the new vlog from Marcus with more information on this. You can also find out more about how we’re working to help seafood business in this blog from Marcus.

It’s important that businesses are aware of the support and advice available, so we’re also updating information on this in below.

Support and advice for businesses

The UK Government has published updated guidance for businesses, employers and employees. The Government also announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19. This includes:

  • A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
  • A Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs
  • Small business grant funding of £3,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance

Schools and childcare provision: Those who work in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery are on the list of key workers – read guidance for schools on the Government website.

HMRC support: If your business is genuinely affected by COVID-19 you can contact HMRC support and ask to defer VAT/ PAYE and Corporation Tax. Find out more online or contact the HMRC COVID19 Support Line on 0800 0159 559.

Self-assessment income tax payments that would be due by 31 July 2020 may now be deferred until January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required – more information is available online here.

Public Health England has shared new guidance for food businesses including packaging, hygiene, waste disposal, and safe distancing. They have also issued advice for premises that have a work canteen.

Information and support for businesses in Scotland

The Scottish Government is providing information on coronavirus in Scotland and relevant updates for businesses including advice and guidance, news and publications on their website.

On 3 April they announced a Scottish Seafood Business Resilience Fund, which will provide a combination of grants and loans to businesses suffering severe hardship following the shutdown of international markets and the food service industry across the UK. Businesses will be required to apply for support and meet the relevant criteria – further details of which will be published in the coming days. All seafood processors who meet the criteria can apply. Visit the Scottish Government website for further information. (A link to information on financial support available for Scottish fishermen is available in the Support for Fishermen section below.)

Skills Development Scotland has launched a Job Hub. Businesses in need of immediate staff as a result of the Covid-19 situation can post vacancies through the hub, which is a free service through a national online platform My World of Work. Employers simply need to fill in a quick online form with some details about your vacancy, Read more about the Job Hub.

Food Standards Scotland is providing advice in the form of common Q&A information in relation to COVID -19 in the food industry. Common questions and answers for businesses can be found here. This includes general food business guidance, additional employee controls, distancing advice and food safety issues. See Food Standards Scotland – Coronavirus and food.

Redundancy Support in Scotland is providing help and support through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE). This is a free and confidential service imitated by Scottish Government to assist individuals and employers who are facing a redundancy situation. Visit Redundancy Support or call the helpline 0800 917 8000  for further information and advice on the services available

Scotland Food & Drink (SF&D) provides a daily coronavirus update on their website and by email. Information includes summary of actions from SF&D, political and Government announcements, business impacts feedback, signposting to support and requests for insights. 

Scottish Enterprise provides information on business advice and support available in Scotland. This includes HMRC information, measures of support for businesses affected by COVID-19, guidance for employers and employment advice. They are also running a helpline which is open Monday to Friday from 08:30 to 17:30. Visit their website or call the helpline on 0300 303 0660.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce is working with members, partners, the British Chambers of Commerce and others. Access the latest guidance on the British Chambers website. Concerns can be shared by contacting

Seafood Scotland is providing regular updates to industry stakeholders including on specific actions being undertaken and latest industry feedback. To request these updates contact

NHS Scotland provides public health advice on Covid-19; information on personal support and guidance on engaging with the NHS in the event of symptoms or illness. Visit the NHS Scotland website

Information and support for businesses in Wales

The Welsh Government has announced a support package to assist businesses affected by COVID-19. Find out more on their website

Business Wales has advice on its website for Welsh businesses. The phone number for further advice is 0300 060 3000.

Public Health Wales provides guidance and resources on coronavirus on their website

Information and support for businesses in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive has information and updates on their website.

Northern Ireland Business Info has advice on its website for Northern Irish businesses.

Other sources of support

ACAS has published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.

Business loans: A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest.

BenefitsVisit the government's website to find out more about, benefits, eligibility and how to apply. The Fishermen's Mission has created an easy to follow guide for applying for Universal Credit.

Support for fishermen


The Marine Management Organisation has produced a guide to current financial and welfare support for the fishing industry – read more on the Government website.

The Scottish Government has announced a package of support with funding to be offered to owners of all full time Scottish registered fishing vessels of 12 metres length and under – visit their website to find out more.

Self-employed fishermen who need support immediately should apply for universal credit as the government self-employed grant will not be paid until June. This needs to be applied for online, find out more on the Government website. If you need support with this contact SAIL (see details below).

The Fishermen’s Mission provides financial, practical and pastoral support to retired or active fishermen and their families. Support can be requested for a variety of factors and financial support is provided when payments can no longer be made and they are in arrears - proof and documentation is required. To find out more their website, call 01489 566 910 or email

Seafarer’s Advice and Information Line (SAIL) is part of Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) but it offers specialised for seafarers. It provides independent financial advice on benefit entitlement, HMRC issues, bankruptcy, debt, charity grants, employment, housing and pensions, as well as advice on consumer issues and immigration. They also offer practical support to assist with filling in forms and negotiating with other agencies. To find out more visit their website, call 0800 160 1842 or email

Shipwrecked Mariners Society provides financial and practical assistance to merchant seafarers, fishermen and their dependents. They can support in instances that include debt, illness, disability, unemployment or retirement. To find out more visit their website, call 01243 789 329 or email

Seafarers Hospital Society offer health, welfare and advice to merchant seafarers and fishermen families. To find out more visit their website, call 0800 160 1842 or email

BIG WHITE WALL is a confidential 24/7 online mental health and wellbeing advice and support service provided by the Seafarers Hospital Society. Visit their website or email

Seafarer Support guides serving and former UK seafarers and their families towards relevant help in times of need. Their online tool allows users to input basic details then searches their database of over 150 maritime charities to identify those which may be able to provide help. To find out more visit their website or call the free helpline on 0800 121 4765. 

Mental health support

If you feel you need additional support you can also contact the following charities: 

The Samaritans: Visit their website or call 116 123.

Silverline: A free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day call 0800 470 8090.

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