More than £1.9 million European funding has been approved for the English fishing industry during March 2011.

A total of 16 projects could benefit from the money, made available through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

Over £1.8 million will be shared among eight large scale developments, which will directly safeguard over 150 jobs and create up to 21 additional roles. The biggest single award approved by the panel of judges was around £606,000 for the redevelopment of Grimsby fish market.

The MMO also agreed a further £97,000 funding through the EFF scheme during the month, for investment in 8 smaller projects such as improvements to fishing vessels in Devon, Cumbria and Cornwall and in fish processing factories in Devon and North Shields.

The total value of the projects, when other public and private sector match funding is included, is more than £4.5 million.

Catherine Murphy, Programme Manager for the European Fisheries Fund in England, said: “A number of the projects we’ve approved will be the first time the work has been carried out in the UK. This is encouraging news in the current economic climate and it’s good to see that a significant level of private investment is continuing in our fishing industry.

“Projects don’t have to be large to qualify for funding through the scheme however. The minimum cost can be around £1200 or less. I’d urge anyone who’s thinking about developing their business or investing in new facilities and equipment to contact us first to see whether their idea is likely to be accepted for funding.

“We can’t support work that’s already been carried out, or items that have already been purchased so it’s really important people speak to us before committing to anything.”

So far this year a total of over £2.12 million has been agreed for funding through the EFF scheme in England.

Money is available through the scheme for fishermen, processing and aquaculture businesses, towards marketing fish products and for projects which will benefit groups, such as harbour improvements.

Applications for the fund can be made at any time, however grants over £100,000 are considered by the judging panel which sits on a quarterly basis. Applications need to be received by 11 May for consideration at the next judging panel on 6 July.

Around £38 million has been made available through the EFF to help the fishing industry in England to adapt to changing needs.

Other funding offered following the March judging panel included:

· £179,000 to enable the Blue Seafood Company in Devon to develop their factory. This will enable them to turn their crab processing waste into a by-product for use by whelk fishermen.

· £70,000 towards an extended education programme to be carried out by Billingsgate Seafood Training School across the South East of England. The programme aims to educate over 10,000 primary school children and their families in the South East about under-utilised fish and the health benefits of seafood.

· £115,000 to help Hartlepool processing company W Hodgson Ltd to expand their factory by 50 per cent. This will help them to expand their product base and offer more locally-caught fish.

· £72,000 to Trafalgar Fisheries, based on the River Avon in Salisbury. This will help them to fit jet platforms to increase the oxygen levels in the fish ponds at their trout farms. This will in turn reduce energy and feed costs.

· £82,000 to help Chichester District Council to build a boat ramp for fishermen at East Beach, Selsey.

· £553,000 to Warners Fish Merchants in Doncaster. This will help them to develop and move to a new headquarters and cold store building. Through this the company hopes to be able to expand its workforce by 40% over the next five years and increase production by over 700 tonnes.

· £150,000 towards a marketing campaign by Seafish aimed at increasing fish consumption among 30 – 45 year old women.

· £168,000 to Park Farm Prawns Ltd in Stowmarket, Suffolk. The company is the first site in the UK farming tropical saltwater prawns and will use the funding to increase the size of its facility by nearly four times.