§ Mr. Roger Evans
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the proposed decommissioning scheme for fishing vessels.
§ Mr. Curry
The Fishing Vessels (Decommissioning) Scheme 1993 was laid before Parliament today.
The Government have already announced that funding of £25 million will be made available over three years for decommissioning fishing vessels as part of the package of conservation measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister on 27 February 1992.
This scheme allows the first tranche of payments to be made during the 1993–94 financial year. The rules may be changed in subsequent years in the light of our experience with this first year's scheme.
There will be no preset rates of grant. Vessel owners are invited to submit tenders for the amount of decommissioning grant for which they would be prepared to scrap their vessel and surrender its licence. Applications will be ranked in terms of pounds per vessel capacity unit.
To be eligible for decommissioning grants vessels must meet the following criteria:
- (a) The vessel must be registered in the United Kingdom. It must have been acquired by the applicant(s) prior to 27 February 1992 and must be over 10 years of age:
- (b) The vessel must have spent at least 100 days at sea on fishing trips during 1991 and at least 100 days in 1992;
- (c) The vessel must he over 10 m in overall length and hold a valid fishing licence. The descriptions of fish that may be taken under the licence must he the same or more extensive than under the license held on 27 February 1992. The licence and any entitlements associated with it will he permanently extinguished when the vessel is decommissioned.
- (d) The vessel must be seaworthy: vessels over 12 m in registered length should have had a valid Department of Transport safety certificate on 1 April 1993.
- (e) Grants will only be paid for scrapping vessels. The applicant must provide proof that the vessel has been removed from the Department of Transport Register of Fishing Vessels and has been scrapped within the European Community before and grant is paid:
- (f) An application for a grant must be approved before the vessel is scrapped or the vessel will not he eligible for a grant;
- (g) Successful applicants must have submitted proof of scrapping, de-registration and have surrendered all licences in respect of the vessel before 1 March 1994 otherwise they lose their right to a decommissioning grant.
Decommissioning complements the measures we are taking under the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1992 to control fishing effort. It will help to ensure that the United Kingdom meets its MAGP targets. I believe that the scheme represents a significant contribution to help the industry to achieve the reductions in the fleet that are necessary if we are to secure a viable future for fishermen.
Fishermen are therefore invited to apply for decommissioning grants. Application forms and accompanying explanatory leaflets are available in local fishery offices. The deadline for receipt of application is 9 July.