Powers to offer financial support to the fishing industry on the scale required to deal with the high fuel costs rests with Westminster, according to Scottish fisheries secretary Mairi Gougeon, reports Tim Oliver.
The minister was asked by Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser (Mid-Scotland and Fife) what support the Scottish government is giving to inshore scallop vessels to help them meet the rising cost of fuel.
She told the MSP: “We have regularly urged the UK government to use all the levers at its disposal to tackle the cost crisis for business and provide the necessary support, including to the seafood sector.
“We are doing all we can to support business and the economy at this time. However, with a fixed budget, and little scope to borrow to deal with such short-term challenges, our hands are tied. We are, however, continuing to actively engage with the UK government and press for further support for all industries.”
The minister said the Scottish government ‘is very much aware’ of the pressures of high fuel costs on the industry. “Although the fishing industry benefits from red diesel relief, fuel remains a major part of fishing business costs, no more so than in the scallop sector.”
The minister said that through its Modernisation of the Inshore Fishing Fleet Programme, the Scottish government was also funding installation of remote electronic monitoring (REM) equipment for all scallop vessels.
She said this was supported by the industry and would help ‘to enhance the inshore fisheries evidence base, improve compliance, and enable better interaction between the fishing industry and other marine users’. In addition, consumers and retailers wanted confidence and accountability in seafood products, and REM helped to satisfy this demand and deliver market benefits, she said.
She added that in the longer term, the Scottish government was continuing to work with the industry and support research into reducing fishing vessels’ reliance on diesel.
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