Chancellor meets fishing campaigners to discuss aid

Chancellor meets fishing campaigners to discuss aid
FISHERIES campaigners from Scotland, Northern Ireland and England held a meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week to discuss specific measures the Treasury can take to support the fishing industry.
The delegation included the Cod Crusaders, Carol MacDonald and Morag Ritchie from Fraserburgh, Dick James from Northern Ireland and Keith Schofield from England representing the United Fishing Industry Alliance and SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Angus MacNeil. The meeting was organised by SNP Leader Alex Salmond who was also present.
Commenting after the meeting Carol MacDonald said: “We were pleased that the Chancellor agreed to meet us, something the Prime Minister, so far, has refused to do. He listened and agreed to accept further submissions from the industry on some of the most important points.
“He made a particular point of asking us about our families and that gave us the chance to talk about the problems we face as small family businesses. The fishing industry plays a big part in the life of towns like Fraserburgh and at the moment, because of the restrictions on fishing and problems with accessing quota, there is huge uncertainty. We hope that the Chancellor, as a family man, will find a way to help our families.
Dick James from Northern Ireland, vice-chair of the United Fishing Industry Alliance, added: “With so many financial pressures on the fishing industry at the moment there is a real and pressing need for government action and support.
“We made a number of specific proposals – on fuel costs and access to quota – and were pleased that the Chancellor has asked for more detailed submissions on these points.
“At the moment fishermen face huge costs to lease quota held by banks and other non-fishing organisations. It is our view that changes to the tax treatment of these quotas
would help ordinary fishermen. This is something the Chancellor himself can do to help the industry now and we will certainly be taking this forward.”
Keith Schofield from Devon, vice-chair of the United Fishing Industry Alliance and chair of SWFPA said: “Towards the end of the meeting we raised the contrast between the help given to coal mining communities and the support for coastal fishing communities. Finding a package of transitional aid for the industry – across the UK – is something that can be Treasury led.
“At all levels the industry is facing huge financial pressures and there is a real need for the same sort of co-ordinated support that has been offered to other industries.
“He has mentioned in the budget that he wants to cut burdens on British business. He could start by sorting out the crazy amount of regulation faced by fishermen from the EU and the UK government.”
SNP Leader Alex Salmond said: “The Chancellor listened, but I think failed to grasp the urgency of the situation. He has asked us to submit more detailed proposals, and we hope this will result in action before it is too late for any more fishing families.
“Transitional aid is an important part of any support package, but we also want to stop money leaking out of the industry.
“That is why help to cut the current sky high fuel costs and measures to bring quota back into the industry must also be part of any package.”
Morag Ritchie added: “The Chancellor may not yet be a convert to the fishing cause, but he is now at least aware of the real pain being felt by families and
communities in all parts of Scotland and the UK.
“I think the meeting was worthwhile but the test is not in the Chancellor’s words but in his actions.”

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