Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

5m fund to scrap fishing boats

File photo of fishing boats in harbour (Image: BBC)
The scheme hopes to help remaining fishermen to earn a decent living

Owners of inshore fishing boats in England are being offered 5m by the government to scrap their boats and leave the industry.

Boat owners welcomed the move, saying that tight EU fish quotas had made it increasingly tough to make a profit.

The scheme will compensate owners who scrap their boats and allow their share of the quota to be redistributed among the remaining fishing fleet.

But some crews said it would leave them without a boat and without a job.

Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said: "I want to help keep as many fishermen in business as possible.

"Many fishermen are facing tough times, and we need to tackle the problems they face now and to lay the foundation that will get the inshore fleet on a sustainable long-term footing."

Mixed response

Nick Proust from the South-West Inshore Fishermen's Association welcomed the announcement, adding that the EU fishing quotas had made it uneconomic for many owners to keep sending their boats out to sea.

The owners won't give us a second thought; they'll just decommission the boats and that's us out of work
Philip Hall,
Fishing boat skipper

"We are not a failing industry; the only part of our industry that is failing is the legislation that is originating from Brussels," he told BBC News.

"At the end of the day, why shouldn't we be compensated for our businesses that we have legitimately run for years."

Ministers hope that reducing the size of inshore fishing fleets, which currently consists of 2,500 boats, will make more of the quota available to the remaining vessels.

However, Philip Hall, a skipper of a vessel based in Brixham, Devon, said the announcement offered nothing to the crews that worked on the boats.

"I've been here for six years, putting all my soul and effort into this boat, and we'll have to walk away with nothing.

"The owners won't give us a second thought; they'll just decommission the boats and that's us out of work."

Mr Irranca-Davies said: "I know these decisions will be difficult for some, but there are no easy answers and we have to make some tough choices."

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