HASTINGS fishermen joined colleagues from all around Europe to demand a fairer policy for small-scale coastal fishermen.
Paul Joy and John Griffin were part of a delegation that went to the heart of the EU in Brussels at the weekend to call for a reform of the unpopular Common Fisheries Policy, which they say is driving small boats out of business.
The pair attended the first European Artisanal Fishermen’s Congress, a gathering of small-scale fishermen from across Europe.
Mr Joy, chairman of Hastings Fisherman’s Protection Society, said: “There’s no future for our seas and our fishing communities in a system that puts quota, subsidies, and influence into the hands of a minority of large-scale, often destructive, fishing operations. The majority of UK fishermen, who are small-scale and tend to fish sustainably, are left with barely enough to scrape by.”
Despite making up more than three quarters of the British fishing fleet, small-scale fishermen have access to only four per cent of the UK quota, with the rest being controlled by a handful of producers organisations. The situation is very similar in other European countries.
The delegation adopted a joint declaration asking for sustainable and low-impact fishing to be put at the heart of the new laws governing Europe’s fisheries, which will be handed over to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council Presidency.
Jerry Percy, of NUTFA, which represents under-10 metre vessels in the UK, said: “Fishing is a way of life that small-scale fishermen have practiced for generation after generation and that is threatened as never before. While not being caused by artisanal fishermen, overfishing has had a disproportionate effect on their ability to survive. If any boats need to stop fishing, it shouldn’t be the smaller, low-impact boats that provide fish and support directly to local communities.”
Last year the Observer took its campaign Fairer Deal for Fishermen to the Prime Minister, to demand a larger share of the catch for boats under 10 metres. It delivered more than 3,000 cut-out fish coupons signed by readers to 10 Downing Street.