Fisheries and Seafood Scheme (FaSS): General Guidance

Updated 23 February 2024

This guidance explains the types of projects that can and cannot be funded, who can apply, how much money you can apply for, and how to apply.

This scheme is for applicants based in England only and it is administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Applicants based outside of England should apply to their respective scheme administrators.

You must read this guidance in conjunction with the specific guidance note that applies to the type of project you are applying for.

This guidance will be updated to ensure compliance with any new legislation, or obligations directly applicable on the United Kingdom authorities (including World Trade Organisation rules relating to fisheries subsidies), and new priorities as the scheme evolves. Please make sure you have checked the MMO’s website to ensure you have the most up to date guidance.


In these notes:

  • You means the applicant. You can employ an agent or consultant to help you complete your application form, but you must sign the form. You will be responsible for ensuring that all the terms and conditions of funding are fulfilled. Responsibility for the content of the application and any supporting information and documentation rests with you and cannot be transferred to your agent or consultant. This means that you will be expected to retain ownership of the work for which you are seeking funding.
  • We means the MMO.
  • Inland fishing means fishing activities carried out in inland waters by vessels or other devices.
  • A public body is an organisation financed, managed or supervised by the government.
  • Small–Scale Coastal Fishing (SSCF) means fishing carried out by fishing vessels of an overall length of 11.99 meters or less and not using towed gear/trawling.

The information provided in this document is a guide and is intended to support your application to the FaSS – it is not legally binding.

1. Aims of the FaSS

The FaSS provides financial assistance for projects that support the development of the catching, processing and aquaculture sectors, and for projects that enhance the marine environment. The scheme is available to applicants whose organisation and/or vessels are registered in England.

The scheme will provide funding for a range of projects that deliver the following high-level outcomes:

  • Creating a more sustainable and resilient sector
  • Boosting the demand of seafood
  • Improving participation through co-design and co-management
  • Achieving good environmental status though the conservation and restoration of the marine environment;
  • Supporting net zero through reducing emissions within the industry

The scheme covers a wide range of projects and detailed guidance documents provide a steer towards the type of project that will be accepted through the scheme and the result indicators that will be used to demonstrate the benefits delivered through each project.

Some areas of the scheme will be opened for applications for a defined period of time through a funding rounds.

2. Eligibility

2.1 Eligible applicants

To be eligible for this scheme you must be one of the following:

  • An individual or business engaged within commercial al sea fishing, aquaculture or processing (1.) or an organisation or business engaged within recreational sea fishing.
  • A public body or local authority in a local community that has a focus on fishing, aquaculture or processing activities (including trust ports and local authority ports, and public bodies, using funds for environmental improvements or the management of fisheries);
  • A university or research institute;
  • A new entrant to the industry or unemployed individual that could benefit from knowledge or skills in fishing, aquaculture or processing activities.

You will be required to declare if you have received funding from other Government financial support schemes and, if so, what for.

If you are a business, you will need to declare whether you fall into the category of micro-entities (2.) small (3.) and medium enterprises (SMEs) (4.) or larger enterprises.

If you are an applicant engaged in recreational sea fishing it is suggested that you contact the MMO Grants Team before making your application so that we can best advise you on how to complete your application form whilst additional IT development takes place.

(1.) This definition includes: The owner of an English fishing boat, that is registered in the United Kingdom under Part 2 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, and whose entry in the register specifies a port in England as the port to which the boat is to be treated as belonging; a fisher, or spouse, or legal partner of a fisher; a producer organisation, inter-branch organisation, cooperative, public or semi- public organization; an aquaculture business or organization; an organisation of fishers involved in production, processing, marketing, distribution or commercial retail of fisheries and aquaculture products; a non-governmental organization; an association; a university or research institute; micro, small and medium-sized businesses; scientific organisation working in the maritime sectors; public-private partnerships; a commercial sea fishing business or organization.

( 2.) A micro-entity is a business that has any two of the following characteristics: a) a turnover of £632,000 or less; b) £316,000 or less on its balance sheet; or c) 10 employees or less.

(3.) A small business is a business that has any two of the following characteristics: a) a turnover of £10.2 million or less; b) £5.1 million or less on its balance sheet; c) 50 employees or less

(4.)An SME is a business that has any two of the following characteristics: a) turnover of less than £36 million; b) £18 million or less on its balance sheet; and c) 250 employees or less

2.2 Ineligible applicants

You cannot apply for and receive funding if you:

  • Have been convicted of fraud under any other fisheries scheme.
  • Have been found to have committed a serious violation of conservation or management measures within the preceding 12 months;
  • Are listed by the flag State, the subsidising Party, the FAO or a relevant Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, or Arrangement for IUU fishing in accordance with the rules and procedures of that State, Party, organisation, or arrangement and in conformity with international law; or
  • Have been convicted of an offence that the MMO considers to be a ‘serious infringement’ (5.) or fraud, in the 12 months before applying

    (5.) Including any illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

2.3 Eligible projects

You must review the relevant guidance note for the project you are seeking funding for. Guidance has been developed for projects supporting:

  1. Fishing related activities including energy improvements on a vessel;
  2. Diversification and new forms of income;
  3. Support to improve the resilience and sustainability of shore-based facilities;
  4. Support for cooperative activities, building capabilities and advisory services;
  5. Achieving good environmental status through the conservation and restoration of the marine environment;
  6. Health and safety.

Please note if we consider that you can afford your project without the scheme’s support, your project will not be approved. As a minimum, all projects will be assessed for value for money, benefits to be delivered, affordability and deliverability.

It is your responsibility to ensure that:

  • your project is technically viable and complies with all relevant health and safety legislation, other project specific safety requirements, and all other legal requirements;
  • items purchased with scheme funding meets all necessary legal requirements. If items purchased subsequently becomes obsolete or illegal, then this is at your own risk. There can be no refunds or claims against the scheme;
  • all relevant legal requirements of the project are complied with.

2.4 Ineligible projects

You cannot get funding for:

  • Anything that negatively affect fish stocks that are in an overfished condition;
  • Activities that would negatively affect the exploitation of fish stocks;
  • Operations that increase the fishing capacity of a fishing vessel, or for equipment that increases the ability of a fishing vessel to find fish, except where they meet legitimate public policy goals such as improved safety or sustainability;
  • Fishing for fish stocks managed by a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation or Arrangement to which the UK not a member or cooperating non-member of the Organisation or Arrangement;
  • Fishing or fishing-related activities conducted without the permission of the flag State where required and, if operating in another State’s waters, without permission of that State;
  • Building, purchasing, importing or acquiring fishing vessels,
  • The transfer of fishing vessels from England to other States, including through the creation of joint enterprises;
  • increasing the capacity of fish holds;
  • Carrying out exploratory fishing;
  • Pulse trawling;
  • The same type of equipment for the same vessel if you have already received support through the scheme;
  • Transferring ownership of a business;
  • Direct restocking unless explicitly provided for as a conservation measure or in the case of experimental restocking and undertaken by a recognised scientific or conservation institution;
  • Statutory or mandatory undertakings – items and services that are statutory or mandatory requirements of law and bylaws cannot be funded;
  • Preventative or scheduled maintenance costs;
  • Maintenance and mandatory costs for any vehicles;
  • Purchasing or leasing of vehicles that are not used exclusively to provide a direct contribution to the project;
  • Interest on a debt;
  • The purchase of land or housing that’s worth more than 10% of your project’s total expenditure;
  • Your business’s operating costs, unless the MMO has told you otherwise in your offer letter;
  • The re-payments of loans on any item(s) you have purchased; *The costs of any item(s) bought with a loan until the loan is repaid (this does not include leased items if your offer letter allows funding for them);
  • Any costs that have been fully or partially funded through an alternative grant;
  • Any costs that you could recover in part or in total by making a claim on an insurance policy or by seeking compensation or damages;
  • The cost for any items purchased prior to receiving acknowledgement of receipt of your funding application by the MMO.

Please contact the MMO if you are unsure whether your project is eligible or ineligible for funding.

2.5 Subsidies

Payments under this scheme are subject to relevant subsidy control principles including the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.

Any subsidies granted under this scheme must not enable an increase in the catching capacity of the UK fleet and/or activities that would negatively affect the exploitation of fish stocks. 

3. Match funding

It is your responsibility to source and provide match funding, such as business loans or cash resources. You must state the source of funding when applying. Before committing any private resources, we recommend you seek independent financial advice.

The amount of money you can apply for will depend on:

  1. Your business or organisation type:
  • Small scale coastal fleet organisations can receive up to 80% funding;
  • Public bodies, producer organisations, fishermen’s associations and cooperatives can receive up to 75% funding;
  • Micro-entities can receive up to 60%;
  • Small or medium-sized enterprises can receive up to 50% funding;
  • All other private applicants can receive up to 30% funding.

Please note that match funding rates may change over the life of the scheme or in relation to different time limited funding rounds. Please check the relevant guidance to see the latest rates that apply.

  1. There are maximum allocations allowed for each type of project. These allocations can be found in the individual guidance documents.

3.1 Non-cash assets

Non-cash assets – such as the value of land, buildings, projected future revenue, or other assets – cannot be used as match funding.

3.2 In kind costs

Items or services which are provided ‘in kind’ – i.e. where no actual costs are incurred, such as volunteering – cannot be used as match funding. However, these may be an important part of delivering a project. ‘In kind’ costs should not exceed 10% of the total budget for a project.

4. How to apply

You can apply for funding online using the FaSS E-system. You may need to complete more than one application if your project has different elements within it. You should read the associated guidance for each part of your application.

If your application is successful, you will need to be able to pay for your entire project up front - you can then claim the costs back from the MMO.

You may be able to claim back up to 10% of the total eligible project for costs incurred before acknowledgement has been received from the MMO. These costs must be for activities directly related to professional services that assisted the application, for example architects plans. We will decide if you are eligible to reclaim these costs and our decision is final.

If you start work before receiving your acknowledgement email, your project may be ineligible for funding.

4.1 Documents you will need to submit

The information required to process an application will depend on the value of the project and what is being funded.

The following must be provided:

  • Copies of your photographic identification documents (driving licence / passport) or two recent utility bills, only for sole traders/individuals.
  • The past three years of your financial accounts (audited or non-audited);
  • If your organisation is less than 3 years old, you only need to provide the accounts for the financial years you have been in operation;
  • If your organisation is less than a year old, you will need to provide a cash flow forecast for a minimum of 5 years (Please contact the Grants Team at the MMO for a template);
  • If your organisation is currently loss making, you will need to explain carefully in your business case or application form the steps you are taking to make your organisation financially viable, including the contribution you expect your project to make to this.
  • A letter signed by all partners to show proof of authority for joint applications from partnerships;
  • Company or charity and Value Added Tax (VAT) Registration numbers, if applicable to your circumstances;
  • Organisation headcount numbers, if applicable to your circumstances;
  • Suitable quotes (see below for more detail)
  • A business case for any project £30,000 and above. Please contact the Grants Team at the MMO for a template
  • If your total project cost is £150,000 or above we recommend that you contact the grants team prior to applying, as you will also be asked to provide a cash flow forecast ( Please contact the Grants Team at the MMO for a template). A full financial and economic appraisal will be conducted on your evidence and you may be asked for further information. Your project will be assessed by a panel of experts. More information on panels, including deadlines and dates will be published on our website.

You will be asked to declare your company’s relationship(s) with other businesses. You must determine and declare your business type from the three categories below:

  • Autonomous – if the enterprise is either completely independent or has one or more minority partnerships (each less than 25%) with other enterprises.
  • Partner – if holdings with other enterprises rise to at least 25% but no more than 50%, the relationships is deemed to be between partner enterprises.
  • Linked enterprise – if holdings with other enterprises exceed the 50% threshold, these are considered linked enterprises.

4.2 Permissions, planning consents and licences

If your project needs specific permissions, consents and licences to go ahead, you must send us proof of these when you apply. If it is not possible for these to be in place when you apply, you should supply details of when these are expected and forward to us as soon as they have been received. An offer of funding cannot be issued without the required planning consents and/or licences being in place. Costs incurred in obtaining relevant permissions, consents or licences are not eligible for funding as part of the project.

5. Quotes and costs


You must provide quotes for all goods and services that are part of your project in order to verify the costs and to demonstrate value for money.

Quotes supplied must include:

  • a detailed and itemised breakdown of costs,
  • the supplier’s address, phone number and a contact name,
  • the supplier’s VAT number, if they are VAT registered and they have included VAT on the quote,
  • the supplier’s company registration number, if they are a limited company,
  • date of quote.

The quotes and tenders you submit must:

  • come from suppliers that trade independently of each other and do not share any ownership,
  • be from the last 3 months and be valid,
  • be comparable in terms of the quality, size, quantity, and type of product, if you are using multiple quotes to show you will get value for money when buying a product,
  • come from independent companies – and not from suppliers you are related to or that your business is linked to.

Quotes should be sent by:

  • Email, showing the email trail from supplier to applicant;
  • Electronic copies/scanned images of publicly accessible catalogues or websites which contain the specification of the item.
  • The original signed quote by post or electronic copies/scanned images
  • Documents that prove you have issued a formal tender, scoring and decision- making details.

You must ensure that the companies requested to quote for items or services for your project know that it is being submitted as part of an application for funding under the scheme.

The number of quotes you need to send depends on the value of the product or service as per the tables below.

6. Private Applicants

Individual items with a value (excluding VAT) Number of Quotes or Tenders
Up to £1,500 At least one quote
£1,500.01 - £5,000 At least two quotes
£5,000.01 - £60,000 At least three quotes
Equal to or over £60,000.01 At least 3 quotes (photocopies/printouts are not acceptable) or evidence of tender must be provided including;

A detailed specification of the works to be undertaken.

Evidence of the scoring used to select the company.

A suitable rationale for the decision to select the chosen company.

The full winning tender submission.

If you are unable to provide the minimum number of quotes or tenders, your application should explain why, and you should speak to the MMO for advice.

6.1 Quotes in foreign currencies

If you submit a quote which is in a foreign currency you must calculate the exchange rate at the time the application is submitted. You can use this website to convert your amounts:

6.2 Public applicants

The procurement of goods and services that are acquired externally must follow the procurement rules of the organisation applying and evidence of those procurement rules must be provided with the application.

In certain circumstances there may be only one supplier that can provide the goods or services, this could be because;

  • it is the only provider who has the necessary skills or equipment to undertake the work,
  • the provider owns the exclusive rights required to deliver the goods or service.

If this is the case, then a Single Tender Action (or equivalent) must be supplied, along with a completed Pre-Procurement Approval Form (or equivalent), which evidences the supporting justification for a Single Tender Action, which has been approved by the business area and the Head of Procurement (or equivalent).

These MUST be provided prior to the purchase of any goods or services.

If your organisation does not follow formalised processes as set out above, then you must provide evidence of project objectives, a breakdown of the costs, an outline of any value for money considerations, reasons for not procuring in the usual way and any relevant supporting documentation.

If the goods and services are being supplied to the project internally, you must provide a rationale for using internal staff/services, and evidence that the project has satisfied a value for money assessment.

6.3 Costs

6.4 Calculating staff costs

A member of staff working directly on your project can be included in your project costs. However, staff time can only be reimbursed where the work on the project is not part of an employee’s regular job role. Staff costs for capital or revenue projects are considered running costs and therefore are not eligible.

If your project includes staff costs you must provide:

  • a staff hourly rates calculator,
  • a job description of the staff member,
  • pay slip or proof of salary,
  • information on contracted hours in current job role, and
  • the role in the project.

Claims for staff costs must only be for hours spent exclusively on the project and must be accompanied by signed timesheets and evidence of payment. If you anticipate there being any pay rises within the lifetime of the project, you will need to provide a detailed rationale for these. If this applies to you, you should speak to MMO Grants Team before applying.

Eligible staff salary costs cover gross salary, NI and employers pension contributions only. All other insurances, memberships, salary sacrifices etc. are not eligible for funding.

6.5 Leasing of items or equipment

Leasing items may be included in your project costs, but only if you can provide a rationale with your application explaining why the use of leased items is better value for money than purchase. If you want to lease land or buildings, they must have a lease remaining of at least 10 years from the time you apply in order to be eligible for funding.

6.6 Simplified costs

Simplified costs can be used for projects where evidencing the actual costs incurred is excessively time consuming or difficult, for example costs for utilities, postage, overheads or where there are many small items with little impact on the project. Simplified costs cannot be used for capital purchases.

If you choose to use simplified costs you will need to demonstrate that the costs are reasonable and based on a sound calculation/evidence methodology over the duration of the proposed project.

In advance of issuing any offer letter the simplified cost rate will be calculated by MMO. This will be based on a percentage of eligible salary costs and will be fixed before the funding offer is made. The method for calculating simplified costs can be found in Annex A.

6.7 Project management

Project Management costs should not exceed 10% of the total project costs.

6.8 Travel and Subsistence

If you are applying for Travel and Subsistence (T&S) costs as part of your project they must adhere to the MMO rules for T&S. Please contact the Grants Team for guidance on these rules.

7. Targets and benefits

Your application must provide information on the benefits that can be achieved directly by the project (termed a ‘result indicator’). This information will be used to assess applications and set targets which successful applicants will be expected to achieve as a result of public investment. Further details can be found in the individual guidance notes.

If you do not fully meet the targets and benefits originally agreed and set out in the offer letter, then we will consider to what extent they were achieved. We will work with you to address the issues identified wherever possible, however public funding must be protected and we may recover funding paid to you, or withhold any outstanding funding, if necessary.

7.1 Result indicator:

A measure of success assessed as part of the approval process, used to set project specific targets which beneficiaries are expected to achieve as a result of public investment.

8. Next steps

We aim to contact you within 5 working days of submission of a complete application and all the required supporting documents. After this you can begin work on the project entirely at your own risk. The item, supplier and cost must be the same as in your application: any deviation will make the costs ineligible.

We will assess your application within 8 weeks of its receipt and notify you if any further information is required. Once we have all the required information to make a decision, we will contact you to tell you if your application has been successful or not.

If approved, you must update us on the progress of your project when you make a claim for payment.

When applying for funding for changes onboard a vessel you must engage with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to ensure works meet the standards for fishing vessel modifications, including MIN593 (F)pre-approval by MCA. pre-approval by MCA.

Details of local surveyors and offices can be obtained from the MCA website.

You must include MCA in the process as work is undertaken, particularly where there may be an impact on stability.

We will send details of submitted applications to MCA as soon as they are received for review, but recommend that you discuss the project proposal with MCA before submitting to MMO. 
  All work undertaken by the owner/skipper of the vessel must meet MCA safety and stability requirements, whether funded by FaSS or otherwise. Responsibility for any work undertaken which renders a vessel unstable or unsafe remains entirely with the owner/skipper of the vessel.

For projects that have the potential to impact vessel stability we require you to supply evidence at the claims stage to demonstrate that you have fully engaged with MCA throughout the project and all works undertaken meet MCA safety and stability requirements. No funds will be paid out unless we receive this confirmation which will be verified with MCA.

9. Contact us

Write to:

Grants Team
Marine Management Organisation
Lancaster House
Hampshire Court
Newcastle upon Tyne

Telephone: 0208 026 5539


10. Annex A: Methodology for calculating Simplified Costs

In advance of issuing any Offer Letter the rate that Simplified Costs are to be paid at will be calculated by the MMO.

Simplified Costs will be based on a percentage of eligible staff salary costs (up to a maximum of 15%). Applicants must clearly identify those costs being claimed as Simplified Costs for the duration of the project, with a transparent methodology for how these costs have been calculated.

Evidence of the Simplified Costs being claimed within the application must be based on data or objective information, such as historical billing information.

The MMO will determine the rate of Simplified Costs that are appropriate for your project. This is up to a maximum of 15% of the approved staff salary costs.

For example, you apply for salary costs and additional costs for one member staff working full time on a one year project. The MMO will consider the application and determine the appropriate rate and value of Simplified Costs.

  • One year full-time employee salary: £20,000

  • Estimate of the overall value of the additional costs: £3,500

  • £20,000 x 15% = £3,000 Simplified Cost awarded (The maximum rate for simplified costs is 15%, so the award is capped in line with this)