Why was fishery protection vessel given away questions AM

Original by Allan George, North Wales Pioneer - https://www.northwalespioneer.co.uk/news/17522825.why-was-fishery-protection-vessel-given-away-questions-am/

Photo - North Wales Pioneer

THE fishery protection vessel given by the Welsh Government to Liberia, could have continued patrolling Welsh waters and saved taxpayers the expense of buying a replacement according to an AM.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders AM has written to Lesley Griffiths, the minister responsible, demanding an explanation. The former Aegis, renamed the Pride of Wales, left Conwy Marine on Wednesday March 20 for Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. She was handed over the Liberian ambassador by Lesley Griffiths in a ceremony in Conwy marina in February.

Janet Finch-Saunders said: “It is quite outrageous the Welsh Government decided to give the Aegis to Liberia without consulting AMs.

“While I appreciate that the Welsh Government might have been striving to help Liberia through making this gift, all of this has been done without explanation or public discussion. Indeed, it is quite ironic really that the President of Liberia has conveyed his sincere appreciation for the kind gesture from the people of Wales, while we, the people, had no say.

“Serious questions need answering. If the vessel is suitable for Liberia then it could have continued to patrol our waters off Wales and we wouldn’t have needed to buy a new vessel, the Lady Megan, and saved taxpayers money.

“During a time when every penny has to be spent carefully, and money is lacking for essential services, I just cannot see how giving away this vessel and investing in a new one can be justified. Indeed, we don't have an ocean of money and can't simply give it away. Therefore, I am determined the Welsh Government will be held accountable and provide complete transparency for the decision.

“I have written to Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, requesting an explanation as to why she has made this major decision.

“Also, I have asked how much public money was used to purchase the Aegis in the first place, and has been invested in her since that time”.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “FPV Aegis has been officially handed over after the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa team approached the Liberian Government.

“After extensive discussions between the team, World Bank Fisheries Department representatives, the EU Fisheries Team and Liberian Coastguard and Fisheries institutions an agreement was reached for the handover.

“As a result of the donation, the vessel, which has been renamed the Pride of Wales, will help protect the 40,000+ Liberians who use dugout canoes to catch fish to feed their families, as well as the wider community from foreign trawlers operating illegally in Liberian waters.”