Maritime and Fisheries Fund (MFF): before you apply

Information about the available funding from the Maritime and Fisheries Fund (MFF) scheme

Any applications that are over £100,000 in total project cost are considered by the MFF panel. The panel are responsible for reviewing applications and recommending projects for approval in line with the objectives of the scheme.

The 2021 panel dates are to be released shortly

The MFF scheme in England provides funding to private applicants for:

  • assisting the fisheries sectors with the implementation of national fisheries legislation
  • improving health and safety on fishing vessels
  • improving the added value or quality of fish caught including use of unwanted catches
  • investments in fishing ports, landing sites, auction halls and shelters
  • processing of fishery and aquaculture products
  • investments in aquaculture

You can apply for funds to support the fishing and maritime sectors under the Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Public applicants cannot apply to this fund.

Projects to be considered under the MFF scheme should not have a total project cost exceeding €2million based on relevant exchange rates.

Applicants cannot be awarded more than €1million, based on relevant exchange rates, in any calendar year during the scheme, including the accumulated values of multiple projects.

About the MFF

The MFF is a funding scheme which will support private applicants in fisheries, inland waters, aquaculture and maritime sectors. The fund provides support for sustainable development within the fishing and aquaculture sectors and conservation of the marine environment, alongside growth and jobs in coastal and marine related sectors. The purpose of the scheme is to provide England with a financial support mechanism to the fisheries, inland waters, aquaculture and maritime sectors. The scheme will help England reach economic, environmental and social goals and:

  • help fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing
  • finance projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along our coasts

MFF priorities

The aims of the MFF is structured around priorities, each with several specific objectives. All of these are supported by specific measures.

Promoting sustainable, resource efficient, innovative, competitive and knowledge based fisheries

MFF support under this priority will focus on innovation and added value that can make the fisheries sector economically viable and resilient to external shocks. This will promote environmentally sustainable, resource efficient, competitive fisheries which are more selective, produce less discards, and do less damage to marine ecosystems. Projects that fall under this priority could be for:

  • research and innovation in new technologies that increase the selectivity of gear
  • energy efficiency improvements to fish processing technology
  • restoration of marine ecosystems

Fostering sustainable, resource efficient, innovative, competitive and knowledge based aquaculture

Aims to ensure the aquaculture sector is environmentally sustainable, resource efficient and competitive, and help such businesses to become green, economically viable and competitive. Projects that fall under this priority could be for:

  • investment in technology which improves aquaculture potential
  • sharing best practice on sustainable aquaculture

Fostering marketing and processing

Aims to improve market organisation for fishery and aquaculture products, processing and marketing sectors. Projects that fall under this priority could be for:

  • setting up Producer Organisations
  • organising certification schemes to increase the value of catches
  • investment in technology to increase opportunities to use by-catch

What MFF funds can support

The fund provides support for private business and individuals undertaking sustainable development within the fishing and aquaculture sectors and conservation of the marine environment. You can apply for funding for things like:

  • investments on board fishing vessels
  • gear replacements
  • improvements to shore-based facilities
  • training and innovation
  • investments in seafood processing and marketing
  • investments in aquaculture and inland fishing

If you work in the fishing industry, you can apply for an MFF grant to fund sustainable development and support growth and jobs in coastal and marine sectors.

Expression of interest form

You can use the Expression of interest form if you would like an initial assessment of the potential eligibility of your project before submitting a full application form through the online E system. Any advice you receive following an Expression of interest response is only an indication of potential eligibility and is not a guarantee of funding. No offers of funding will be made until after a full application has been submitted, assessed by MMO and approved and you have received an offer letter.

Expression of Interest Form (MS Word Document, 128KB) Expression of Interest Guidance (MS Word Document, 57.4KB)

Funding you can apply for

To apply, you need to propose a project. There are different funding areas you can apply for. Each grant has its own application form and its own guidance note. You should read the guidance note relating to your project type and the General Guidance note before you complete your application.

1. Support for fishing vessel energy improvements (RTF, 1.3MB) 2. Support for Investments on Board Fishing Vessels (MS Word Document, 304KB) 3. Support for Improvements to Shore-Based Facilities (MS Word Document, 147KB) 4. Support for partnerships information sharing advisory services job creation and training applications (RTF, 1.43MB) 5. The Marine environment and Inland Fishing (RTF, 2.08MB) 6. Support for Aquaculture Processing and Marketing (RTF, 2.25MB)

Activities you can apply to fund

You can apply for funding to:

  • improve the energy efficiency of your gear or vessel
  • expand your business into new markets and find new ways of increasing productivity and throughput
  • improve health and safety
  • boost the value and quality of your product and including ways to use unwanted catch
  • improve fishing ports, landing sites, auction halls and shelters
  • try innovations in fisheries, the maritime sector and aquaculture
  • marketing measures
  • process fishery and aquaculture products
  • start a partnership between scientists and fishermen
  • create jobs in the fishing or aquaculture sectors
  • create social dialogue
  • implement conservation measures and regional co-operation
  • limit the impact of fishing on the marine environment and adapt fishing methods to protect species
  • innovation that could conserve marine biological resources protect and restore marine biodiversity and ecosystems and inland waterways for migratory species
  • investments in aquaculture
  • projects that promote human capital and networking in aquaculture

This list is not exhaustible. Contact the MMO if you’re unsure whether your business type or the activity you want to fund is eligible.

Activities you can’t apply to fund

You cannot get an MFF grant to:

  • increase the fishing capacity of your vessel or increase the ability of your vessel to find fish
  • increase the capacity of fish holds
  • build fishing vessels or import them
  • stop fishing activities temporarily or permanently, unless otherwise provided for in the MFF regulations
  • carry out exploratory fishing
  • transfer ownership of a business
  • fund direct restocking unless explicitly provided for as a conservation measure by an appropriate legal act or in the case of experimental restocking
  • fund the purchase of inland fishing vessels
  • fund the construction of lobster hatcheries

Contact the MMO if you’re unsure whether your project is eligible or ineligible.

Who can apply?

You can usually apply for the scheme if you’re at least one of the following, but you should read the guidance for each individual article:

  • the owner of an English registered fishing vessel and you commercially fish from a port based in England
  • fisherwoman, spouses or legal partners
  • an aquaculture organisation
  • an organisation of fishermen or fisherwomen
  • involved in production, processing, marketing, distribution of fisheries and aquaculture products
  • an association, including new aquaculture farmers
  • private universities and research institutes
  • small, micro and medium-sized businesses (see below for definition)
  • scientific organisations working in the maritime sectors (restrictions apply)

Micro, small and medium-sized businesses

A small, micro or medium-sized business is a business which:

  • employs fewer than 250 people
  • has a turnover of less than £34,525,001 or a balance sheet total of less than £36,596,502

In order to qualify as an SME, in addition to meeting the relevant staff headcount and financial thresholds, public ownership or control of an enterprise cannot equal or exceed 5%. However, the Fisheries Block Exemption Regulation (FBER) includes some exceptions to this public ownership rule, details of which may be found in Annex 1 of the Regulations.

Contact the MMO if you’re unsure if your business qualifies.

Who can’t apply?

You can’t apply for an MFF grant if you’ve been convicted of an offence that the MMO considers to be a ‘serious infringement’ or fraud.

  • a fraud conviction – excludes you from applying to the MFF scheme
  • a serious infringement conviction – excludes you from applying in the 12 months following your conviction, this may be longer depending of the severity of the infringement.

If you think this applies to you please read the Guidance on inadmissibility and fraud for further information on the effect infringements have on your eligibility for funding.

Due to tighter eligibility criteria, MFF prevents publicly owned or controlled bodies from applying, and applicants must establish if they meet the eligibility requirements. The restriction on public ownership is because the scheme must comply with the state aid rules set out in the Fisheries Block Exemption Regulation (FBER) , which limits funding to Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) (See above).

How to apply for funding

You need to read the guidance documents relevant to your project and apply online in order to get funding. Not all projects will be successful in getting funds as the scheme is competitive. Once you submit your application to us, we will consider whether to approve it or not. You can read more about the application process on the how to apply for funding page. If you are unable to complete an online application please contact the MMO.

Information about recipients of MFF funding

The MFF scheme requires that information about each project which has been funded is published; this is called the Transparency Initiative.

By accepting an offer of MFF funds high level details of your project and the funds offered will be included on this list. Every six months, this website will be updated with a list of all projects which have been offered funding. The following information will be published about each project:

  • name of the recipient of the funds
  • Recipients identifier
  • Type of enterprise
  • Region the project is located
  • Sector of activity (NACE Group Code)
  • total size of the funds awarded and how the funding is made up (for example from MFF funds or national match funds)
  • Type of grant
  • Date of grant
  • Objective of the aid
  • Granting authority

Contact us

The Grants Team
Marine Management Organisation
West Wing , Lancaster House
Hampshire Court
Newcastle Business Park
Newcastle Upon Tyne

Telephone: 0208 026 5539


Published 24 October 2019
Last updated 22 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Guidance amended to reflect reopening of MFF

  2. Eligibility criteria updated

  3. First published.