Fishermen ask for help with fuel costs ‘so the fleet can continue to feed the nation’
Fishermen in Shetland, who fear rising fuel prices will force them to moor their boats, are asking for government help – warning that without action the UK’s food supply could be affected.
Daniel Lawson, chief executive of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA), urged ministers to ‘help our fishing fleet continue to feed the nation’.
The SFA appealed for help as it said the war in Ukraine had seen the cost of marine diesel on the islands more than double from last year.
“As Shetland boats continue to struggle, they see governments elsewhere taking action to help a clearly valued industry,” he commented.
SFA chairman James Anderson, skipper of the Alison Kay, said rising fuel costs meant some crew were considering not going to sea, while others were taking pay cuts or giving up crew members.
The organization contrasted this situation with France, where fishermen can benefit from a government subsidy that contributes to the cost of fuel, and Spain, where the government has pledged to reduce taxes in ports managed by the state and offers low-interest loans to help the fishery. the boats remain viable.
With nearly 50,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish landed in Shetland last year, Lawson said: ‘The ripple effects of the Shetland fishing fleet being forced to ground would be a hammer blow to the economy of our islands, the wider supply chain, and to the whole of the country’s food supply – with more fish landed here each year than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.
“Ministers must take note and act now to help our fishing fleet continue to feed the nation.”
Anderson said: “The war puts things into perspective, and every household and industry in the UK is feeling the pressure of rapidly rising fuel bills, but our governments must be aware that boats are struggling – and that we cannot continue to fish for long in the current climate.
“Already in Shetland, we have seen crews forced to consider laying down, taking pay cuts or being made redundant until ships become viable again.
“It won’t happen anytime soon without a show of support for our industry, as other countries have chosen to do.”
A UK government spokesperson said: ‘Like many sectors, the fishing industry is facing challenges due to global fuel prices.
“Marine Voyages Relief is offering eligible vessels 100% relief on their fuel costs, and we continue to engage with industry to discuss current challenges and potential mitigations.”
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