Aid Package Goes Through Unchanged –

Aid Package Goes Through Unchanged Fishing Monthly Published:  05 March, 2003

A CONTENTIOUS £50m aid package for the Scottish fishing industry was approved today despite claims that it will wipe out what remains of the white fish fleet because of its over-emphasis on decommissioning.

Opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament failed to win any change of mind despite claims that allocating up to £40m for decommissioning boats and only £10m for transitional aid was a flawed approach.

The unchanged package was passed by 64 votes to 44 and fisheries minister Ross Finnie told MSPs that Scotland had to see through its commitment to decommissioning and restructuring of the industry.

But Scottish National Party fisheries spokesman Richard Lochhead said Mr Finnie must be the only fishing minister in Europe contemplating spending 80% of his aid package on destroying fishing vessels.

“Other countries are building new ones – our minister wants to destroy his own fleet.”

Conservative Highlands MSP Jamie McGrigor said the package promised no future for the industry and represented a poisoned chalice for the sector.

Instead of directing the bulk of the aid for decommissioning, the allocation should be reversed with most of the cash used to keep the industry in being until stocks recover.