Action on Aid Demanded –

Action on Aid Demanded Fishing Monthly Published:  25 April, 2003

SCOTS Tory MEP and President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee Struan Stevenson has demanded answers from UK Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley on whether he now intends to apply for the €150 million of emergency EU funding to support the whitefish sector.

His call follows confirmation from the European Commission that draft proposals for accessing emergency funding must be submitted by the UK Government before any funds can be released to help Scotland’s beleaguered fishermen.

Mr Stevenson said:” This information flies in the face of the assertion by Elliot Morley that he cannot move without first seeking a proposal from the Commission. This is patently untrue and he is simply trying to pass the buck. I want to know when he intends to set the ball rolling.

“Given the Commission’s comments, the fact remains that the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to provide €150 million emergency aid to the white fish sector who’ve been forced to tie up their boats for half of every month and suffered savage cuts of over 50% in quotas.

“So far they have not seen a single penny of aid. Thousands are facing ruin because Elliot Morley has so far failed to act in this matter. It is little wonder that over 140 skippers have applied for decommissioning grants to scrap their vessels. When they do, Scotland’s whitefish fleet will fall below the critical mass necessary to support thousands of jobs in the harbours and processing factories. “