The Government has announced there will be a pot of money available to help fishermen who have lost gear in the recent storms. At face value I welcome this announcement as I was beginning to think the industry were getting left out with support.
However reading through the details, this isn’t actually new Government money, but recycled money from the European Fishing Fund. Which could already be applied for! In fact, by using this money for those affected by the storm, you are taking money away from other parts of the fishing industry. As the £11m
EFF is used for non-mandatory safety equipment, engine replacement, fish handling and chilling equipment to name but a few.
It is also a grant scheme, so you would have to put in an application and go through the grant process. Which is never a quick process and you have to wait till your grant is approved before you can actually buy/replace any lost equipment.
Furthermore, the amount that can be applied for – up to £5000 – is a very small amount if you actually look at the cost of replacing the lost gear. £5000 is better than nothing, but it not far off tokenism. As I will explain.
Talking to local fishermen who have lost gear, I asked if could be provided with details on the cost of gear he has lost; which one fisherman has kindly done so.
For instance, the cost of a standard pot is around £50. The larger ones are £75 each. The back-lines for the pots are £47 per coil.
This ‘new’ funding would not cover his initial loss of 83 pots – 60 small 23 large – as that comes to £5,430. Plus, at the time of talking, the fisherman is still missing 18 strings. Each string contains 25 pots. If those strings are not recoverable that’s a £22,500 loss and that’s without adding in the cost of back lines and just using the costing for a small pot.
Even those pots which are recoverable, they will need to be repaired and re-lined. This is just on an 8 metre boat operating 650 pots. How can a small operator fund the losses, especially with the crabbing season really starting at the end of this month.
Now you can see why this fund is more like tokenism and not serious aid and support to an industry which has suffered due to the weather. What the Government must do is support the ‘farmers of the sea’ with real financial support as this industry is a major food provider in the UK.
Without proper aid, this industry will find itself again on the rocks and in real danger of foundering. Please Government, stop saying you are going to help, if you are not actually going to do so!