Tuesday, 22 July 2008

When the boat comes in...

...there's not a lot to smile about if you're a UK fisherman.

Another reason why independence, or at least more powers, are essential to the progress of our little Scottish land.

May 12 - Fuel help pledged for fishermen

July 22 - Report rules out fishing fuel aid

One of these is a useful, helpful and realistically thought out policy (with funds) designed solely to help out an industry that is in greater peril than most at the moment.

One is the House of Lords, a society devoid of any understanding of the fishing industry or anything north of Birmingham, screwing over a predominantly Scottish industry.

With the majority of commercial fishing being in Scotland, I am not surprised how little consideration and assistance fishermen will receive through Westminster. Richard Lochhead, Scottish fisheries minister, has worked tirelessly in consulting and working with the industry to hear what the Government can reasonably do to help. Every week he is, amongst his other ministerial duties, talking to fishermen, industry leaders, campaigning, rallying at Westminster for more help and seeing what assistance can be afforded by the Scottish Government. With more than 75% of the UK fishing industry based in Scotland, you would think Scotland would have a similar representation when MEPs are discussing the topic in Europe, whether it be quotas, discards, Common Fisheries Policy or pushing the Seafish 'Responsible Fishing Scheme', which has itself already made agreements with foreign vessels? Nope, in yet another area, Scotland is under represented and there is near enough nothing we can do about it.

Westminster and the House of Lords in particular have just torpedoed the British fishing industry, another big hole in an already leaky ship. They're not asking for free fuel, just a slight decrease in the duty that Gordon 'the Iron Brew' (cos he's an embarrassment to Scotland) Brown siphens off. Fishermen are not behaving like French farmers with the CAP, they're asking for a signal, a tiny inflatable life raft that will give them a better chance of getting to shore.

The 'we should've let Northern Rock go down on it's own' brigade might ask 'Why should fishing get such special treatment, why not bus companies, taxis?' Because fishing is so much more stretched by fuel prices than almost any other industry in the world. This isn't like British Airways who have had years of gross profits flooding out through the years, this is an industry which as a country, we do not want to see disappear...and it will disappear if no help is offered. It would not be in such a precarious position if it weren't for GB's tax on fuel...and it is the whole industry that is at risk, not just a section of.

But thanks to the House of Lords, and in spite of the, impotent but best efforts of the Scottish Government and Richard Lochhead, the slippery slope just got a whole lot slippier.

The sooner we get more or full powers, the better off we'll all be, in many, many ways.

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