Blair Report Move Gets Thumbs Down –

Blair Report Move Gets Thumbs Down Fishing Monthly Published:  27 March, 2003

PRIME Minister Tony Blair has asked the Downing Street Strategy Unit to examine the medium to long-term challenges facing the UK’s fishing industry.

But today, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Hamish Morrison said they had hoped that after meeting Mr Blair in Downing Street he would have used his influence to help the fishing industry’s position in the EU.Instead, what they were getting was another report on problems already well documented.

Mr Blair’s project will aim to develop a “long-term strategy for a sustainable sea fishing industry” in the UK and will take into account the need for sustainable management of marine resources within the wider European context, the diverse and changing circumstances of the fishing industry, and the social and economic development of communities that depend on fishing.

UK Fisheries Minister, Elliot Morley, will be the sponsor minister for the project and the final report is intended to be completed by December 2003.

Scottish Fish Merchants’ Federation spokeswoman Rhona Grant said today that the probe must take into account the interests of all sectors of the fishing industry.

However Mr Morrison said:”What we had hoped for was that the Prime Minister would bring his political status and authority into play in the deliberations of the Council of Ministers.

“And there is something rather cynical about waiting until December 2003 before saying anything. Presumably this is in the hope that by that time, brutal market forces will have dealt with the problem.”