Observer Comment: Time to use our fishing industry or lose it

WHEN we launched our campaign demanding a fairer deal for our local fishermen there were two things we wanted to address.

One was the ridiculously unfair quota system. The other was the absurd practice of fishermen being forced to throw dead fish back into the sea if the quota has been used up or the wrong species caught by accident.

The news that the European Union is going to introduce a ban on discards is welcome. But it is not the end of the problem by any means. Until the imbalance in quotas is properly addressed, fisherman like those here in Hastings will continue to struggle to make ends meet.

The fleet here uses sustainable, eco-friendly methods and its boats never purposefully catch more than they are entitled to. The problem is for many species that entitlement works out at less than one fish a day.

Hastings would not be the same without its fleet. The fishing families are at the core of the Old Town and the huts and boats are as much a symbol of this town as the castle and the pier.

Thousands of you backed our campaign and you should be proud that we helped force a change. The fight is not over yet. It may be largely out of our hands now, but we can still all do our bit.

So this weekend, ditch the roast dinner. Head down to Rock-a-Nore and pick up some lovely, freshly caught fish. Because, much like the pier, the chances are we won’t really realise how lucky we are to have the fishing industry until we lose it.

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SUSSEX Coast College Hastings (SCCH) arrived like a breath of fresh air in the town centre.

It gave local teenagers somewhere to continue their studies in a modern and state-of-the-art facility. The general consensus was that it was £120 million well spent.

For that reason this week’s revelation that the college could be forced to shed staff comes as a massive body-blow. Employers across the town all agree that Hastings is lacking people with a wide skills base. SCCH provides them. And more. Under charismatic new head Janak Patel, SCCH has become something the whole town can both enjoy and be proud of.

The young people of this town - and the surrounding villages - deserve the best surroundings in which to learn. They have them. But they also deserve the best teachers and support staff. If looming cuts meant trimming jobs it could seriously affect the standards of education available.

A lot of money has been invested in the college and the futures of the town’s young people. To slash the funding now would be at best counterproductive and at worst letting down the teenagers of Hastings who are so keen to learn.

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HASTINGS boasts an abundance of special events and large-scale fundraisers. The willingness of locals to go that extra mile to help organise festivals and celebrations is one of the best things about the town.

This weekend sees two such events take place. Saturday, July 16, sees the ever-impressive St Leonards Festival take place in Warrior Square and Kings Road. This area is home to more than 100 different nationalities and there is bound to be plenty of diverse entertainment on offer.

Then on Sunday, July 17, more than 2,000 women will head to Alexandra Park to raise money for Cancer Research UK at this year’s Race For Life.

Both events deserve the town’s support.