The global fuel crisis is running many of Hong Kong's fishermen aground Rising global oil prices have forced 300 fishing boats in Hong Kong to stop putting to sea because they can no longer afford the fuel. The owners want the government to bail them out. The cost of diesel fuel for fishing boats has risen by nearly 20 per cent since the start of this year, according to the Joint Committee of the Hong Kong Fishermen's Association. That brings the cost of a 220-litre barrel of fuel to $460, and a boat uses eight barrels a day, on average - for a daily cost of $3,680. For a pair of fishing boats, the monthly fuel cost is now $230,000. Legislator Wong Yung-kan, representing the fishing industry and also chairman of the joint committee, said some boat owners had lost about $20,000 a month. The fishermen were demanding low-interest government loans to help ease their financial position. Some representatives are to meet Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department Director Thomas Chan Chun-yuen today. Fisherman Fan Lin-kwai has stopped taking his boat out because he was not making enough money to cover costs. The last time diesel prices reached this level was during the Gulf war in 1991, he said. 'The main problem is whether we can make enough money to fill the tank,' he said. 'I hope the government will lend us more money to help us out.' By leaving his boat docked at Aberdeen, Mr Fan has also left six of his employees jobless. He took a government loan last year to help with his business, as declining fish stocks made fishing more difficult. Lai Chi-ming, who has been a fisherman since the late 1980s, said he stopped taking his boats out this month. With a pair of boats, Mr Lai said he had lost several thousand dollars a month to keep them operating. He has lost about $50,000 in three months, he said. The fishing season is closed from June 1 to August 1. Fishermen like Mr Lai said they would need more loans to carry them through that period. Mr Wong added: 'In the auto industry, oil companies would announce a price increase before they take action, but they don't do that for the fishing industry. 'They could raise prices today or tomorrow, we wouldn't know.' Another trade association, the Hong Kong Fishery Alliance, said it had struck a deal with Iliad Petroleum. The company has agreed to supply diesel fuel to fishermen at a discounted price of $440 per 220 litres, a saving of $20. But company chairman Wong Chung-fat stopped short of yielding to demands to make public announcements of price increases. 'It would be difficult for us to do that because international oil prices change every day. We use those prices as guidelines for setting our prices the following day.' Meanwhile, Shell announced a price increase yesterday of 20 cents and 17 cents for automotive petrol and diesel respectively.