New strategy needed to tackle fuel challenge –

New strategy needed to tackle fuel challenge Published:  09 May, 2008

Mike Park

THE need for concerted action to tackle the economic problems facing the fishing fleet caused mainly by soaring fuel costs has been called for by a fishermen’s leader.

Mike Park, the executive chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association, told that recent Seafish figures are showing a dramatic downturn in the profit margins of the fleet.

“This is caused mainly by fuel,” he said.

The impact of fuel costs varied according to vessel size, power and fishing method but he agreed that some skippers were finding their fuel bills totalling more than half their operating costs.

“Basically, fuel is affecting everyone badly one way or another and we need to sit down and plan out how we approach this.

“We need a wide cross-section of people to sit down and assess the industry’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It is not treats we are looking for it is commitment and commitment has got to come both from the industry and the Government at domestic and European level.

“And this will test our new regime’s commitment to the industry.”

What had to be looked at were the range of catching opportunities available as well as income projections-basically it meant constructing a big picture taking in all relevant factors needed to secure the industry’s future.

Soaring fuel costs are affecting the fleet right round the UK coastline and Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead is due to meet industry leaders in Aberdeen on Monday to discuss the issue.