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Issue Date:- 14 July 2008


FISH will disappear from the table unless more fishermen are forced off the seas, a Southport Euro-MP has warned.

The European Commission says that 88% of fish stocks in EU waters are being exploited beyond their rate of recovery.  But EU Fisheries Ministers meeting in Brussels this week are discussing measures to support the fishing industry and protect it from the current increase in fuel prices.  Some of the money is to be used to support a significant decommissioning of vessels but the meeting is likely to discuss payments to crews stranded by the fuel crisis so they can stay in business and start fishing again when oil prices fall.

Euro-MP Chris Davies describes such support as ‘short-sighted madnessand is urging Ministers to put the long-term survival of fish before the profits of fishermen.

He said:- “Deep sea vessels will suffer most in the current fuel crisis. They travel longer distances in huge vessels to hoover fish to the brink of mass extinction.  We should allow a free market to operate and the last thing we need are subsidies to wipe out our dwindling fish stocks.”

Mr Davies, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman in the European Parliament, claims that current fishing practices are a disaster tolerated only because their effects cannot be seen beneath the waves.

He said:- “Governments across Europe are still hell-bent on fishing to the point of extinction despite every warning that comes from scientists in Brussels.  The irony is that if we allow fish stocks time to recover, and then use them more sensibly, we will be able to catch more fish than we do now and there will be more jobs for fishermen.”

Poor pay is threatening public services

A STUBBORN refusal by local government employers to negotiate a better pay settlement for council workers could threaten the future of public services, leading officials at UNISON have warned.

Research shows there are still many occupations where local authorities struggle to recruit and retain suitably skilled staff, and UNISON says this will only get worse unless pay improves.  The top 10 skills shortages include jobs in social work and social care, environmental health, planning, building control, trading standards, school crossing patrol and building surveying.

UNISON’s North West Regional Secretary Frank Hont said local government workers were the lowest paid in the public sector, and the more their pay falls behind the more difficult it will be to recruit.  This will also impact on the highly trained employees already delivering these services, and on local residents and communities who rely on them.

Mr Hont said:- “UNISON represents local government workers at all levels and we know from the feed-back we are receiving in the run-up to next week’s strike that members have had enough.  Some on the lowest pay feel it is degrading to have to rely on working tax credits to bring their wages up to a level deemed sufficient to live on. Those at a more senior level are becoming increasingly fed-up of having to cover for vacancies and meet efficiency targets at the same time as facing what is effectively a pay cut.  We have a duty to negotiate a decent standard of living for all local government workers to maintain this level of expertise and defend public services.  Local government pay also often sets the standard in the voluntary sector and reports out today show the voluntary sector makes up a far larger part of the economy than previously thought.”

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