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Fuel Top of Agenda at EC Fisheries Council

by Ellen Hardy
24 June 2008, at 1:00am

EU - The high price of fuel and its impact on European fishing fleets will be on the agenda at a meeting of the EU Fisheries Council in Luxembourg this week.

The Commission is proposing a package of measures to aid European fishermen.

These include a short-term focus on the worst hit segments of the fleet, including the provision for the temporary laying-up of some boats.

Over the longer-term the EC is advocating a package of measures that will enable the fleet to adapt to high fuel costs, including the adoption of more fuel efficient fishing practices.

According to Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, the proposals are welcome and could offer real hope for Scotland’s fishermen.

"In their proposals the Commission recognise the importance of the European fishing industry and the need for support measures to help it survive soaring fuel costs," he said.

However, the plan will only make sense if all EU member states accept the proposals and are prepared to allocate funding and apply them on a national basis.

The EC is pressing for uniform agreement because if only some member states agree to the plan, then this would put the fishing fleets of other countries at a serious competitive disadvantage.

At a recent meeting with the fishing industry, UK fisheries minister Jonathan Shaw said that there were no available funds to help fishermen.

"There is a real fear that the UK and some other Governments will reject the proposals, leaving fishermen in the lurch and with little hope for the future. This is an opportunity that must not be thrown away," said Mr Armstrong.

Ellen Hardy