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Allister calls for commitment from Fisheries Minister to avail of EFF

20 June 2006

With the Council of Ministers now having approved new funding arrangements for the fishing industry, which will come into effect in 2007 under the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), DUP MEP, Jim Allister, has said the challenge is now to ensure the DARD draws down the available funding. 

“One of the tragedies of fisheries funding to date is that the British Government has refused to draw down available funding because they were not prepared to produce matched funding and so, instead, they let our industry continue in decline with an ever ageing fleet.  The new EFF will only be of benefit if this culture of grant avoidance is overcome.”, said the MEP.


Mr Allister continued:-

“One of the available funding facilities under EFF is to aid fishermen equip their boats with new and more efficient engines.  This is critical in a time of run-away fuel prices.  DARD’s attitude to this opportunity will be a litmus test of what weight can be given to the Minister’s fine words of today.

In anticipation of this issue I wrote to the Minister last week.  I included the following pointed observations in my letter:-

"I write at this stage to establish if in principle your Department will commit to drawing down, and where necessary co-financing, such available funding.  I would stress that both from the perspective of modernisation needs within the industry and the environmental gains which would result from more efficient and eco-friendly engines, such funding has the capacity to make a positive contribution to the continuance of our hard-pressed fishing sector.  I believe that the Department's response on these issues will be seen as a legitimate test of its commitment to the industry.  Cash always speaks louder than words.

I am aware that some of your officials seem to be set upon securing further rationalisation and reduction within the sector and may urge upon you the view that better engines will only increase fishing effort.  Such dogma, I believe, is destructive of the future of our industry and must not be allowed to perpetuate the haemorrhaging of viability which has afflicted the sector now for many years.

I trust therefore that you will ensure that the new opportunities afforded under the EFF from 2007 will be fully exploited and not wasted."


Commenting further on the issue, Jim Allister said:-

"With the fishing industry almost destroyed by the CFP it is important that our own Government step up to the challenge of protecting their own citizens where they can and exerting what power they still have left.  We cannot let our fishing industry be controlled by those who have little experience beyond our harbour walls.  I call on our Minister to listen to our fishermen, grasp the opportunities available and make a commitment to securing a future for our fishing fleet by drawing on some much needed funding for an industry in deep waters."

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