Herring on menu with new £1million fishing grant

HASTINGS kippers could soon be on the menu with plans afoot on how to spend an expected £1million fishing grant.

The local industry is set to be handed a war chest of around £1.3million after being confirmed as a Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) area.

Hastings Borough Council has already begun meeting with local fishermen and other interested parties in how best to splash the cash.

Among the ideas already cooked up are plans for a herring smokery - which would mean local traders would be able to flog Hastings kippers.

And, an increase in demand for herring would be music to the ears of local crews who are still struggling to make ends meet.

Currently there are no quotas in place for herring catch, unlike the strict guidelines which govern how much cod can be caught in the waters off 1066 Country.

Others plans include kitting out a state-of-the-art seafront kitchen, holding an annual herring fair and adjusting the shingle gradient on the beach to make the boats more of an attraction to tourists.

Cllr Peter Pragnell, who has backed the Observer’s fight for a fairer deal for fishermen, was delighted with this week’s announcement. He said: “This is great news for the town - and in particularly the Old Town.”

And Cllr Peter Chowney, who will help spearhead the town’s plans, was equally pleased at the announcement.

“This is really good news,” he said. “There is a substantial amount of money being made available to us and there are already a lot of really interesting ideas coming forward.”

A pot of cash was set aside by the European Fisheries to be spread out among the five FLAG areas outside of Cornwall and that was subsequently matched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

And, if that cash is divided equally then Hastings would be in line for a share topping £1million.

However, Cllr Chowney warned: “We do have to compete against the other FLAGs, so it is really important that our strategy makes a strong case for the maximum possible funding.

“We are probably the smallest and most fragile of the FLAG areas in terms of fishing activity, and we are more deprived than any other FLAG area.”

“We will put together a package of initiatives that recognises the importance of our fishing community, and its role in the local economy.”