A WELSH fishery patrol vessel worth £44,000 given to Liberia has had to be replaced by a vessel costing £2.6 million, according to Aberconwy AM Janet Finch-Saunders.

The Aegis, renamed Pride of Wales, was handed over to the Ambassador for Liberia in February, by Lesley Griffiths minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, at a ceremony in Conwy marina.

On the same occasion Mrs Griffiths named the replacement vessel Lady Megan, at the time she said: “If there is a no Brexit deal obviously we are very unsure what will happen for our fishermen. So what is really important is that we continue to enforce the laws of the sea.

“This fishery protection vessel which now completes our fleet, it is the third new vessel we’ve had in over a year, will ensure that we have fit for purpose vessels able to do that job.”

Last week Janet said: “The deeper I dive into the background of the Welsh Government fleet, the more troubling the water becomes for the Minister.

“Already, I have unearthed the fact her fleet of three at Conwy Marina undertook a total of only 63 patrols in 26 months, and that the Aegis has been sent to Liberia free of charge to undertake duties which she could have practiced here.

“Now, I have been advised that the donation to Liberia was actually worth a minimum of £44,000 to Wales. While I do encourage people to donate to charities, when considering that key public services are desperate for money, I really do think that this donation by the Welsh Government is inappropriate.

“Undoubtedly, I acknowledge the fact the Aegis was designed to enforce up to the six mile limit, and the Welsh Government now wants to cover a greater area, but I really am shocked this decision has resulted in £2.6million being spent on a new vessel.

“Clearly, this is a titanic amount, and assurances are now needed that the investment was done after careful consideration of all options. Therefore, I have written to the Minister asking for an explanation as to what alternatives were considered as part of the process of deciding to buy the Lady Megan”.