Government "lacks commitment" to fishing industry – Fishupdate.com

Government “lacks commitment” to fishing industry Published:  03 June, 2008

Barrie Deas

THE UK Government today failed to show commitment to the survival of the UK fishing industry, a leading industry figure said today.

Barrie Deas, the chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations took part with the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation in today’s meeting with UK fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw on the fuel crisis facing fishermen.

At the London session, Mr Shaw give a firm thumbs down to de minimus aid on a UK basis for the fishing fleet to help offset fuel costs , despite the fact that French and Spanish fishermen already get the EU-sanctioned assistance.

And Mr Deas echoed Scottish federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong’s bitter criticism of Mr Shaw who claimed to industry leaders that the UK did not have the resources to pay out de minimus aid which, in any case, he said, would not solve the industry’s problems.

Mr Deas went on: “Mr Shaw said it would not solve the problem and of course we have never said it would. We cannot read the future and see which way the oil price would go, but this aid would have signalled a Government commitment to ensure the survival of the fishing industry.”

Mr Deas also agreed with Mr Armstrong’s view that it was important not only to have a level playing field in aid terms across Europe but in the UK as well.

Mr Shaw had understood the industry arguments put forward today again that fishermen could not simply transfer the high costs of fuel to the consumer, but the Minister still gave a firm thumbs down to the de minimus request.

As to where the York-based federation goes from here, Mr Deas said that they would have to take stock and undoubtedly they would call an emergency executive meeting to see where they go next on the issue.

Mr Shaw’s dismissal of their aid plea today would, he said, either result in a mood of disappointment and despair in the industry or spur fresh resolve to do something about it.

Asked if he was surprised at the meeting’s outcome, Mr Deas said :“I thought there would be a package and what he has come back with is less than this . There was nothing on de minimus although there may be other things in the pipeline.

“I would agree that a claimed lack of resources in terms of de minimus aid is in reality a matter of a lack of political will.

“We put forward a distinctive case but clearly the Minister was not going to favour that over the existing status quo.”

Mr Deas added that he was very pleased with the way fishermen’s representatives conducted themselves at a demonstration in London today over fuel costs . This was excellent and it was therefore all the more disappointing that participants had left London empty-handed.

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