PN050603D

5 JUNE 2003

 UK COASTAL COMMUNITIES NEED A LIFELINE TO SURVIVE JOB LOSSES IN THE FISHING INDUSTRY

Scottish and other UK coastal communities will need transitional financial aid to survive job losses in the fishing industry, according to a new report.

A House of Lords Committee held informal talks with key industry leaders in Scotland during its inquiry into the reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

The Chairman of the inquiry, Lord Selborne said:

"Stocks of North Sea cod and hake have been devastated by years of  over-fishing, so the EU must take drastic measures to stop them being totally wiped out.

"A virtual ban on fishing cod will be a bitter but crucial pill for Scotland's fishing communities to swallow. Fisherman will need transitional financial aid, linked to stock recovery plans.

"We can only hope to create a sustainable fishing industry when short-sighted EU Member States stop hi-jacking the Commission's excellent plans for long-term reform.

"Fisherman and other key players need to be at the heart of fisheries management through their involvement in Regional Advisory Councils."

The Committee urge the UK Government to:

  • Promote diversification of coastal economies

  • Develop alternative employment opportunities for fishermen

The UK Government should press the EU Council of Ministers to:

  • Adopt cod and hake recovery plans without further delay

  • Make much greater use of direct controls of fishing effort

  • Stop using EU funds to support new fishing vessel construction

  • Depoliticise operational management by devolving it to Regional Advisory Councils

  • Fund more economic research in the fisheries field

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

1. The members of European Union Sub-Committee D (Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Consumer Protection) who conducted this inquiry were:

Baroness Billingham

Lord Carter

Lord Crickhowell

Lord Fyfe of Fairfield

Lord Haskins

Lord Lewis of Newnham

Lord Livsey of Talgarth

Baroness Maddock

The Countess of Mar

Lord Palmer

Lord Renton of Mount Harry

The Earl of Selborne

Lord Walpole

The specialist adviser was Professor John Shepherd FRS, University of  Southampton Oceanography Centre.

2. The report is published by the Stationery Office: Progress of Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, Lords Select Committee on the European Union, 25th Report, Session 2002-03, HL Paper 109, ISBN 0-10-400227-1, price £13.00. The full text of the report will be available on the internet via www.parliament.uk shortly after publication.

3. While the  Commission's reform proposals of May 2002 were well received by many Member States, they were fiercely opposed by the so-called "Friends of Fishing" − Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

4. The Committee examined progress on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the light of developments since the Report of January 2001, Unsustainable Fishing: What is to be done with the Common Fisheries Policy? This is available at http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld200001/ldselect/ldeucom/12/1201.htm

5. As well as holding formal hearings in Westminster, members of the Committee visited Aberdeen, Peterhead and Fraserburgh for informal discussions with officials from the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department and with fishing industry representatives including Hamish Morrison, Chief Executive, Scottish Fishermen's Federation and Mike Park, Chairman of Scottish White Fish Producers Association.

Further information from:

  • Tom Radice

               Clerk of the Committee, on 020 7219 6084

  • Jillian Bailey

               Press and Publicity Officer (Committees), on 020 7219 8659

[ENDS]