Fuel cost idles Scottish fishing vessels

June 27, 2008 at 10:37 PM
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PETERHEAD, Scotland, June 27 (UPI) -- The price of fuel in Scotland, which has doubled since last year, has forced many owners to leave fishing vessels tied up at the dock.

About 20 percent of the boats in Peterhead, a major fishing port on the east coast, remain in harbor, The Scotsman reports.

James Stephen, a fifth-generation fisherman, said fuelling the Harvest Hope cost him 14,000 pounds ($28,000) last year. This year, the cost is 28,500 pounds ($57,000).

Bertie Armstrong, head of the Scottish Fishing Federation, said because fish is sold at auction, boat owners are unable to pass on the cost of fuel.

"We are price takers, not price makers," he said.

Fishermen around Europe are waiting to see what kind of aid package the European Union will devise but member states are expected to provide additional assistance.

"The Scottish fishing fleet is the third largest in Europe and it is imperative that we get support -- otherwise our fishing industry could face the tragedy of an unplanned collapse," Armstrong said.

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