A delegation from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) is scheduled to meet tomorrow with Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, to discuss an aid package for the fishing industry, following the unprecedented succession of storms that have affected the fishing industry.
Many fisherman have been unable to go out to sea to earn a living in the past few months due to the severe weather.
“We have been talking to officials about the possible shape of a rescue package,’’ said Paul Trebilcock, chairman of the NFFO, and also chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, one of the areas most severely hit by the storms.
“Now, we are meeting with George Eustice to hear what level of political support there is for a realistic and rapid support package.
“What is needed is immediate short-term support to put fishing businesses back on their feet. We are not looking for long-term subsidies, but we do believe that government has a responsibility to underpin a return to profitability in these exceptional circumstances. There should also be parity with the treatment afforded to the farming industry.
Mr Trebilcock said the kind of support the NFFO has been pressing for includes the immediate access for fishermen to the Government’s small business support scheme and funding to replace gear damaged in the storms.
The delegation will also discuss with Mr Eustice ways to help fishermen recoup the lost earnings suffered from being unable to go to sea.
“Obviously, fishermen will judge the Government on how much support it is willing to give and how easy it is to access that support. These are exceptional circumstances; although, having said that, when this latest calamity hit, the industry was only just recovering from the losses arising from the unusually cold start to the previous year.
“This is an opportunity for the Government to demonstrate its commitment to the fishing industry and to the fishermen who put food on our tables in sometimes very difficult circumstances,’’ he said.