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Dumfries Conservatives, Scotland

13 October, 2004


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Leader of Scottish Tory MEPs, Struan Stevenson, demands action into discrimination against UK fishermen.

Date of Posting: 16/02/2004

Originator: David Mundell

I have asked the European Commission to explain why average fines handed out by Italian courts to fishermen who break the law are 150 times lower than similar fines in the UK.

According to statistics produced by the European Commission, fines in Italian courts for fishermen caught falsifying their logbooks averaged £42 in 2002. However, fines for UK fishermen found guilty of the same offence averaged a staggering £6,254. Other discrepancies include fines for fishermen caught fishing without a licence, which varied from only £68 in Sweden, to £3,044 in Denmark and a massive £14,630 in Ireland. I have now written to the Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler asking for an explanation as to why British fishermen are being discriminated against.

The overall number of serious violations of fisheries laws fell from 8,139 in 2001 to 6,756 in 2002. Nevertheless, the wide discrepancy of fines across the EU appears to show a marked bias against UK and Irish fishermen.

We cannot have a system where our fishermen are being penalised with gigantic fines while Mediterranean skippers get away with a smack on the wrist. I have therefore asked Commissioner Fischler to examine ways in which some guidance could be offered to courts in the EU. We need a more fair and even-handed system of punishments for serious violations of fisheries laws.

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