Fishing fleet set for cash booster

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THE HASTINGS fishing fleet is in line for a much-needed financial boost after it made the cut to be eligible for a new pot of European Union (EU) funding.

It is one of six coastal communities whose Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) will share a £4.6 million fund set aside to help areas where fishing is a key industry. The FLAG brings together councillors, representatives of the fishing industry and other community and business leaders who will work together to help sustain and expand fishing in Hastings.

Cllr Peter Chowney, lead member responsible for the project at Hastings Borough Council, welcomed the news as a timely boost for our under-pressure fishermen, who have been crippled by EU quotas in recent years.

He said: “Our fishing industry is vitally important to the local economy, not just as a direct source of employment, but also for the many jobs that depend on it. It brings thousands of visitors to our town, for whom the beach-launched fishing fleet is a fantastic attraction.

“The fishing community goes back more than 900 years, and still uses traditional techniques to fish, and so is very sustainable. However, it faces major challenges.

“This grant will, I know, be of huge benefit. I am particularly pleased that the judging panel recognised the strong partnerships that already exist here - this award can only strengthen these.”

Last year some 347 tonnes of fish was landed in Hastings, worth more than £800,000. Towns and villages were encouraged to apply for FLAG status and chairman of the judges Ray Headley said: “The Hastings FLAG is to be made up of representatives from a broad section of the community. They have some really good ideas and I look forward to learning of their progress.”

Representatives from the Hastings FLAG will be invited to a workshop in the next few months where they will be helped with their formal development strategy. The first round of funding will then be allocated from the pot to help the local group achieve its aims.