Young fishing crews call for urgent government help to tackle rising fuel costs

Young local fishing crews have said they are in desperate need of government assistance as the cost of marine fuel continues to rise.

Fuel is at almost three times the price it was last year, and Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) has warned the whitefish sector is in particular danger of failing.

Defiant skipper Robbie Jamieson, 25, said the cost of fuel “has become crippling”.

He bought the boat last year with the rest of his shareholder crew, all of whom are under the age of 30.

Mr Jamieson said along with the rising cost of fuel, ongoing issues with cod quotas “adds to the problem”.

“We have to try and avoid the abundance of cod in our waters – meaning we use even more fuel per trip.

“It isn’t financially sustainable, and we’ll struggle to keep going like this.”

Comrades skipper Ben Irvine, 24, agreed – saying the cost of fuel “has become a real problem” for him and his crew.

“As a young crew, we have debts to pay off from purchasing the vessel last year.

“If our fuel bills stay so high, that becomes harder and harder to do – and the boat becomes less and less financially viable.”

The SFA has called on the UK and Scottish governments to step up and help the nation’s food producers through these issues.

SFA executive officer Daniel Lawson said ministers needed to make good on their promises and priorities around food security.

“While Shetland boats face tying up, the waters around here are fished freely by vessels from other countries – where fishing is clearly valued and governments have agreed to help their fleets bear the escalating costs.

“Rising fuel and energy bills are affecting every household and industry across the country, but fishing vessels in Shetland have seen the cost of marine diesel almost treble this year – and quadruple since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our young crews have invested in the future of this industry, so essential to our island economy.

“They have confidence for the future, but they need government to show that same confidence in them”.


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