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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Julie Girling - Aid for storm-hit fishermen

Conservative Euro MP Julie Girling has highlighted the plight of local fishermen who have not been able to fish since December due to the relentless storm conditions which have prevented them from going to sea.




These fishermen were finally able to return to the sea only last weekend after almost two months of inactivity. Inshore fleets, particularly in the South West of England and along the Welsh coast, where most fishing activity involves day boats, have been severely impacted. But many fishing communities around the entire UK have also been affected.

Fishermen have faced the choice of risking their lives by putting to sea in life-threatening conditions, or not having enough money to pay their bills and feed their families.


Commenting on the situation, Mrs Girling said; “The difficulties our local fishermen face cannot be underestimated. Many of the small scale (under 10 metre) fleet in these affected areas have had no income whatsoever since before Christmas. The extreme weather conditions involving violent storms and excessively high tides have also caused severe damage to harbours, ports, infrastructure, sea defences, vessels, static fishing gear and even shingle beaches. The situation is dire and urgent help is needed."

Mrs Girling added; “I urge local fishermen to contact the Marine Management Organisation. The recently agreed European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) may co-finance mutual funds for fisherman, to allow them to finance special insurance schemes to compensate income losses in cases of adverse climatic conditions. As for fishermen losing their fishing gear due to adverse climactic conditions (e.g. storms), the EMFF may support the purchase of new more selective gear.”


Jeremy Hosking who operates out of Newlyn in West Cornwall said; “The exceptional weather of recent months has had a devastating impact on fishermen like myself who fish from small boats. In my case I have recovered 60 pots that are beyond repair and have a further 125 unaccounted for. The fishing industry is a primary food producer yet for many of us the damage to our gear has meant we can not go about our daily business".

Derek Thomas, Prospective Conservative MP for the St Ives Constituency said; “The fishing industry is an important part of our local economy. Already our fishermen are working in all weathers to make a living and the storms of recent months have added considerable strain to hard working families. These fishermen need access to help quickly. Many jobs on land and at sea depend on the success of this vital industry.”

The EU's state aid rules for the fisheries sector also allows for certain national schemes to support these types of losses incurred by fishermen and other professionals in the sector as a result of adverse meteorological conditions.