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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 18:11 GMT
Fishing industry in 50m payout
Cod
The cuts come into effect in February
Scotland's crisis-hit fishing industry has been awarded a 50m compensation package.

The deal is designed to ensure its survival - but will involve scrapping even more of the Scottish fleet.

The fishing industry warned it faced meltdown as a result of a conservation deal struck in Brussels last month by European ministers.

COMPENSATION PACKAGE
Ross Finnie, fisheries minister
We will ensure that our fishing communities acquire the support they need to weather these fundamental changes

Ross Finnie
Rural Development Minister
Fears have been voiced for more than 30,000 Scottish jobs as a result of quota cuts which are due to come into effect on 1 February.

Cod catches will be cut by 45% in the North Sea and vessels will be limited to 15 days at sea each month.

Scottish ministers unveiled details of the special aid on Tuesday for skippers and others who will be affected in the industry.

The executive also plans to review the situation of the fish processors, and local enterprise companies have been tasked with closely monitoring the impact on processors and the wider fishing community.

10m in support

Ross Finnie, Rural Development Minister, said that the help would assist the industry north of the border to adjust to new EU catch quotas.

He added: "Our policy objectives are two-fold. Further restructuring of the whitefish sector coupled with rational economic planning, and a process of structured change in the sector.

"We will ensure that our fishing communities acquire the support they need to weather these fundamental changes."

Cod
Cod catches will be cut by 45%
The biggest single block of the 50m cash will go towards scrapping 15% of the Scottish white fish fleet.

The reduction follows a 10% cut in the number of boats two years ago.

Approximately 10m has been earmarked for support for the fishing industry.

Ian Duncan, secretary of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), which represents three quarters of the Scottish fleet, said crews and skippers would greet the new proposals with "shock".

Mr Duncan said that at a rough guess the decommissioning plan equals around 160 vessels in the fleet.

Long-term future

"We are not talking about lean and mean, we are talking emaciated and crippled, I am afraid.

"The fleet will fall to almost half its original size and the impact on communities will be significant, there is no doubt about that.

"It's a package which will manage the decline of the Scottish fleet - the money is needed, but what we also need now is a management plan to ensure the Scottish fleet has the long-term future that it deserves."

Fish market
10m has been earmarked for general support in the industry
Stewart Stevenson, the MSP whose constituency includes Peterhead, says fishing communities in the North-east will be bitterly disappointed at the executive's aid package.

The SNP representative for Banff and Buchan added: "The 50m package announced today is neither an investment in our industry nor a lifeline for it.

"With the bulk going to scrap boats, owners and banks may benefit.

"Fishermen and onshore industries vital to our future prospects will gain little or nothing."

And David Davidson, Tory MSP for North East Scotland region, said the executive package "totally inadequate".

"Some further decommissioning is sadly inevitable but if another 20% is taken out of the fleet, there is a serious risk that the critical mass necessary to retain support industries and the vitally important processing sector will be lost," he said.

Difficulties 'avoidable'

Brendan May, chief executive of the Marine Stewardship Council said: "Mr Blair has spoken of the need to support fishermen, on other occasions he speaks like a conservationist, at some point in the near future he may be forced to choose between one or the other.

"50m is a large price to pay for something that could have been avoided, had politicians listened to scientists and conservationists.

"Until they start to listen many more cheques will have to be signed, with no long term dividends."

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Colin Wight
"Dark days for the fishing industry"

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24 Jan 03 | Scotland
23 Jan 03 | Scotland
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