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Greencastle fishing industry at crisis point 23.11.07

GREENCASTLE'S fishing community is at crisis point as fuel prices soar, making profits negligible.
Foyle Fishermen's Co-Op yesterday said the industry was "touch and go" with local skippers questioning the viability of going out on fishing trips in the current economic climate.
Greencastle Harbour. "It's touch and go now and skippers are wondering whether the boats are viable at the minute with the price of fuel so high," said Foyle Fishermen's Co-Op manager, John O'Kane.
"The problem is that more than 50% of a boat's earnings goes on fuel alone, so half of it is gone before you even pay the wages.
"It's a huge problem and it's making skippers wonder whether it's worth it or not."
Mr. O'Kane said while the lower dollar was helping somewhat, any benefit was cancelled out by the smaller fishing quotas and the fact that oil had hit 95 a barrel.
"The price of fish can be good over the next two to three weeks but with the high cost of fuel, the prices aren't enough to turn a profit."
The Co-Op manager said there had been no lay-offs as yet but it remained a concern. "The skippers are absorbing the losses at the minute to keep men on, but that's unsustainable in the long term," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. O'Kane supported a call yesterday by North West MEP Jim Higgins for the Government to follow the example of France and give emergency tax breaks to the fishing communities in Greencastle and Killybegs. Mr. Higgins said with declining fish stocks and soaring fuel prices, Donegal fishermen were "hanging on by their fingertips".
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