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High Fuel Prices Demand Urgent Action, says SFF

by Ellen Hardy
17 March 2008, at 12:00am

SCOTLAND - The Scottish Fishermens Federation wants the immediate aid measures to help alleviate the crippling price of fuel.

With prices reaching a record high, it says that its members are struggling to remain viable. Fuel costs have doubled during the past four years and now typically account for around 50 per cent of the expenses invested in a single fishing trip. Surviving further price hikes will be difficult if near impossible for many fishermen, says SFF

“It is simply not sustainable for the Scottish fleet to continue operating against the background of such crippling costs and urgent action needs to be taken to alleviate the situation,” said Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive.

He has raised the issue with Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead, who has agreed to highlight industry concerns at a meeting tomorrow in Brussels (18 March) with EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg.

Mr Armstrong said the Cabinet Secretary has assured he will address two major concerns. "He has agreed to emphasise to Mr Borg both the general problem caused by the eye-watering cost of fuel and the perceived lack of a level playing field as a result of French and Spanish government actions to help their fishing fleets. “He has also called for a report from his officials on the effects of the high fuel prices and has promised to meet with the SFF to discuss possible mitigation measures," added Mr Armstrong.

No Subs

Mr Armstrong said the Scottish industry realised that the world market and oil prices were driving the situation. and a direct subsidy for the fishing industry was unrealistic and likely to breach competition rules.

“What might realistically be available, however, is mitigation within the rules for some other cost elements,” he said.

This could include cancelling or reducing the payment of light dues and the maintenance and operating costs for the mandatory vessel monitoring system (VMS) and the forthcoming electronic logbooks.

Ellen Hardy