Thursday, 11 December 2008 14:41
THE UK Government is to run a new scheme to compensate trawlermen who lost their livelihoods following the `Cod Wars' of the 1970s, it emerged today.

Announcing the scheme, Employment Relations Minister, Pat McFadden said:

"The Parliamentary Ombudsman found last year that the breaks rule in the previous scheme was unfair, and recommended that the Government review the eligibility criteria and scheme rules, to ensure they were consistent with the policy intention underlying the scheme. We have now completed that review and have changed the breaks rule.

"The new scheme will make payments based on each trawlerman's total service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters. This means that the impact of any breaks from the industry will be sharply reduced. Around 1,000 trawlermen who received less than they expected under the previous scheme should get extra payments."

The Government will consult on the details of the new scheme in the New Year. This should enable the new scheme to be launched by the middle of next year. It is expected to cost less than 10 million.

Around 43 million was paid out to 4,400 former trawlermen and their dependants under the previous scheme, which was open to claims between 2000 and 2002.

The origins of the trawlermen scheme lie in the collapse of the distant water fishing industry in the wake of the 'Cod Wars' during the 1970s. These fishing disputes between the UK and Iceland were brought to an end by an agreement in 1976. Under this agreement, the UK recognised a 200 mile fishing limit around Iceland, with the result that many UK distant water trawler men lost their livelihoods in the following years.

At the time the trawlermen were regarded as being self-employed, which meant they did not qualify for redundancy payments.

Under the new scheme, the Government will calculate payments for each trawlerman on the basis of his aggregate service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters. Where this calculation produces a higher payment than that already made under the previous schemes, the Government will pay the difference. The Government will not claim payments back where the reverse is the case.