Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 11:32 UK

Fishermen stage oil price protest

Richard Brewer at the protest
Fisherman Richard Brewer said his fuel bill has doubled

Fishermen from across the UK have protested against rising fuel prices, saying their industry is "uniquely vulnerable" to the issue.

The fishermen say oil costs mean they lose money whenever they go to sea.

French fishermen joined the protest outside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London, to show international support.

Protests against the cost of fuel have been staged by fishermen across Europe, as well as UK and Dutch lorry drivers.

'Pan-European problem'

The fisherman have urged the government to provide an aid package to help them survive.

Their protest coincided with a meeting between fishing industry leaders, UK Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw and Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead to discuss the issue.

Boats are going out to sea and fish for five days in terrible conditions and we're not getting enough to even pay our crews
Barrie Deas
National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations

Fishermen say that everything they use is based on oil - from the rope with which they make their nets, to the fuel they run their boats on.

They say as a result the spiralling cost of oil, combined with a cut this year in their fishing quotas, it is no longer worth going out to sea.

National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations chief executive Barrie Deas said: "The fishing industry finds itself in a double bind.

"We cannot simply pass on our costs because we sell our fish through the auction system, creating a terrible problem in the industry.

A fisherman explains what soaring fuel costs mean to his business

"Boats are going out to sea and fish for five days in terrible conditions and we're not getting enough to even pay our crews."

One of the organisers of the protest, Richard Brewer, a fisherman from Whitby there could be more demonstrations in the future.

"We feel this government should realise we have a fishing industry in this country. It has to survive and we hope that they can help us make it survive.

"This time last year my weekly fuel bill was about 2,000. The same week this year, as last week, my fuel bill was 4,500," he said.

The fishermen accuse the government of not applying for direct grants for the industry, which are available from the European Union and which other countries have taken up.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said ministers believed a long-term approach, rather just short-term assistance, was needed.


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Europe fuel protests
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