Shetland Pledge To Fight EC Ruling –

Shetland Pledge To Fight EC Ruling Fishing Monthly Published:  04 June, 2003

SHETLAND Islands Council has pledged to fight the European Union’s ruling that local funding agencies are not allowed to buy up fish quota to help the local fleet.

Shetland Leasing and Property (SLAP) and the Shetland Development Trust own almost £20 million of quota between them, which they lease out to the dwindling Shetland white fish industry.

Council convenor Sandy Cluness, who is also chairman of SLAP, insisted the development trust investment was not using public money and therefore the state aid regulations did not apply.

He said: “European rules are challenged every day and when we get the full report, then we will get our lawyers on to it and we will fight them every inch of the way.

“This is the kind of thing we get from Europe all the time. They are trying to reduce our fishing industry to nil, and at the same time they want to stop us using our own funds to help.

“These funds are not from the local authority at all, they are private funds which have been used to help keep the local fishing industry alive.”

The cash held by SLAP and the development trust comes from the Shetland Charitable Trust, which has been funded from oil revenues brought in from Sullom Voe oil terminal.

Mr Cluness said he had received personal assurances from UK fishing minister Elliot Morley that the Westminster government would assist Shetland in challenging any adverse ruling from Brussels on this issue.