East Anglian fishermen could get a share of a £15.4m fund to improve safety at sea - but government detractors have warned it may be too late to save some in the industry.

Eastern Daily Press: June Mummery MEP. PHOTO: MICK HOWESJune Mummery MEP. PHOTO: MICK HOWES (Image: Archant)

Applications for two Government fishing funds have been opened yesterday for fishermen in the region and those working in the seafood sector.

The fund consists of £14.7m to encourage the take up of innovation and technology to support jobs in coastal communities, as well as an additional £700,000 which has been ring-fenced for fishing safety improvements on board English vessels and around ports and harbours.

June Mummery, of Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance, who was elected as a Brexit Party MEP earlier this year, said: "This is wonderful news and I am very excited for our fishermen.

"Sadly though, if Boris' deal goes through then we are bound to that awful EU treaty for another three years and by the time we are set free from their shackles there will be a lot of fishermen out of business. They can't afford another three years of this."

Eastern Daily Press: John Lee, owner of JLee Crab Stall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJohn Lee, owner of JLee Crab Stall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY (Image: Archant)

John Lee, owner of JLee Crab Stall in Cromer, also welcomed news of the fund.

He said: "Any financial support from the government is very rare but widely welcomed. It's encouraging to see that they are putting money to one side for the fishing industry, especially as it is to do with safety.

"This job is one of the most dangerous to do, especially with coastal erosion, so the fund sounds brilliant and is something we will have a look at."

The fund is open to applications that support innovation, improve port infrastructure, boost coastal communities, help the sector adjust and improve safety on vessels and on shore.

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: "With important ports in Lowestoft and Leigh-on-Sea contributing to fish landings worth £4 million, the fisheries sector in the East of England supports over 200 businesses.

"As we leave the EU and become an independent coastal state, it is our priority to maximise opportunities for this important industry. The new fund opening today will give an important boost to fishermen in the East Anglia and across England.

The fund is open to applications until March 2022, with submissions to be made through the Marine Management Organisation.