Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Trawlermen consultation launched

Trawlermen consultation launched

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release (2009/035) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 24 February 2009

The Government today launched a consultation on its new scheme to compensate trawlermen who lost their livelihoods following the 1970s 'Cod Wars'.

The consultation runs until 22nd May. The Government intends to open the new scheme to applications in the summer.

Employment Relations Minister Pat McFadden said:

"We announced our intention to launch a new scheme before Christmas and now are keen to make sure that everyone has the chance to have their say on the details of the new scheme. We are inviting views on our proposals over the next twelve weeks and will consider these carefully before launching the new scheme in the summer.

"Under the new scheme, trawlermen who received less than they expected through the previous scheme will be able to apply for extra payments.

"Around 1,000 trawlermen should benefit, based on their aggregate service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters. This means they will not have lost out if they took breaks from the industry."

The breaks rule in the previous scheme that ran from 2000 to 2002 was found to be unfair by the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Following a review, the Government has decided to run a new scheme based on aggregate service rather than continuous service as before.

Around £43 million was paid out to 4,400 former trawlermen and their dependents under the previous scheme. Up to £10 million is expected to be awarded under the new scheme.

Anyone who wants to have their say can do so by downloading the consultation from the Department for Business' website or by contacting 0845 015 0010.

Notes to Editors

1. 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.

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

3. Following developments in employment case law, the Department for Employment paid £14 million to 9,000 trawlermen under an ex-gratia scheme between 1993 and 1995. This scheme was criticised by the industry because payments were made on the basis of length of service for each employer.

4. A second compensation scheme was open to claims between October 2000 and October 2002. This was a quasi-redundancy scheme under which payments were calculated depending on the length of each trawlermen's continuous service in the Icelandic waters fishing industry. Under this scheme, a further £43 million was paid to 4,400 former trawlermen or their dependents.

5. In 2007 the Parliamentary Ombudsman recommended the Government review the criteria and rules of the 2000-02 scheme. She found in particular that the breaks rule in that scheme meant that some trawlermen with long careers in the industry had received smaller payments than they might reasonably have expected.

6. 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, in the last twenty years of his fishing career. Where this calculation produces a higher payment than that already made under the previous schemes, the Government will pay the difference. We will not of course be claiming payments back where the reverse is the case.

7. The Government is consulting on a number of other aspects of the new scheme, including:

* The qualifying test should be amended to require successful claimants to have at least two years aggregate service on Icelandic vessels during the period of the Cod Wars

* Interest should be added to the additional payments; and consolatory payments of £200 should be made to successful claimants under the new scheme

* The Thessalonian should be added to the list of Icelandic vessels for the new scheme

* The new scheme should be limited to existing claims only and people should be given six months to apply.

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