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Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr President, it can sometimes be difficult to explain to European tax payers, our constituents, why it makes sense to use their money in order to destroy vessels that may well be seaworthy and which could be used in some way, even for non-fishing purposes. However, that does not mean that these vessels are suitable for use in any area. The more I have looked into the actual situation in the tsunami-hit countries, the more sceptical I have become about the value of this particular proposal. It may be a symbolic gesture and it may be that a small number of vessels could be used or converted, but I do not think that will be of major assistance to areas that were devastated.
I support the amendments tabled by the various groups. I very much regret that the Commission has not agreed to support them. If this proposal is adopted in some way by the Council, I believe that the amendments would bring about very considerable improvements, not only in a practical sense, but to its intention and spirit. A measure such as this should be looked at as an enabling measure; not to enable Member States to actively offload unsuitable vessels to these countries, but to enable those countries that have been affected to request certain vessels to be transferred to their areas if they are suitable for use or conversion.