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Sea Fish Industry Authority

Volume 202: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1992

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make an announcement about the review of the Sea Fish Industry Authority carried out by fisheries departments.

[pursuant to his reply, 20 November 1991, c. 189]: The Government have carefully considered the additional comments received from the fishing industry and other interested parties about our proposals for action arising from the review of the Sea Fish Industry Authority —SFIA.

Fisheries Ministers have now reached decisions as follows. We call on the SFIA board to make proposals to reduce the levy by £1 to £7.40 a tonne. This would represent a substantial reduction in the cost of the SFIA to the industry, as the majority of those who pay the levy clearly want. At the same time, a reduction to £7.40 rather than £7, as originally proposed, would take into account that some of the SFIA's costs have increased, and allow scope for a somewhat greater range of services to continue.

Subject to the statutory procedures for publicising a proposal to change the levy, it will be for the SFIA board to decide on the exact range of operations to be continued at this new rate. It would be open to the board to include an element of generic advertising which parts of the industry still support.

Ministers have further decided that the levy should not be extended to salmon or trout, or to canned and bottled fish, nor applied on an ad valorem basis; and that the conversion rates for deriving the levy rate on fish fillets should remain unchanged.

We are asking the SFIA to agree plans with the industry for greater industry participation in the advisory committees which will cover the work of SFIA departments. We look to the industry to co-ordinate their nominations for seats on the SFIA board.

We request the chairman of the SFIA to follow up the reviewers' recommendations for improvements in its organisation, structure and efficiency, in consultations with fisheries departments.

Ministers believe that this programme of action will help the industry and the SFIA to continue to promote an efficient seafish industry and one which will be able to meet the challenges for the future.