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Attack over Lack of Fishery Support

UK - A Euro MP has criticised the UK government for refusing to support British fishermen in the light of ever-rising fuel prices, while the French and Spanish government subsidise their fishing industry.

Struan Stevenson

Speaking in the European Parliament, in Brussels, this week, Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson said rocketing fuel prices were hitting UK fishermen hard.

"While the selling price of fish products has remained the same, fuel costs are, on average, a third higher than they were last year," he said.

"While skippers claim they can pay a maximum of 23p per litre of diesel to maintain a viable business, current fuel costs have raised the price to 44p per litre.

"For a medium-sized beam trawler the fuel costs may therefore be more than a third of its grossing. According to some industry leaders, going out to sea today is causing skippers debt, rather than profit."

Mr Stevenson added: "Meanwhile the French and Spanish governments have reacted to global fuel price rises by subsidising their fishing industry. The UK government, on the other hand, is refusing any form of assistance to fishermen."

In a deal struck between the French government and industry representatives following a number of protests in Brittany earlier this year, French trawlermen were promised £230million over three years.

The money will come from EU funds and a new two per cent tax on supermarket fish sales.

However, fisheries commissioner Joe Borg has criticised the French state subsidies and launched an investigation into whether they are compatible with EU state aid rules.