FISHERMEN in Hastings are being forced out of business by unfair catch quotas and we want readers to join the Observer in telling David Cameron: “Enough is enough”.
Despite boasting the largest beach launched fleet in Europe and a tourist trade which relies heavily on the historic fishing community, Hastings has seen its hard-working fishermen strangled by barmy European Union red tape.
The under 10 metre class of boats - like those found here in 1066 Country - are entitled to just three per cent of the overall catch, despite providing more than three quarters of the country’s overall fleet.
And to make matters worse, local fishermen are forced to throw tonnes of dead fish back into the sea to avoid risking prosecution from the Government.
Well today the Observer launches a new campaign to lobby decision-makers in London and Brussels to help our fishermen stay in businesses.
We want to see a fairer deal for the under 10 metre class and an end to the ridiculous practice of throwing back dead fish.
Keith Ridley, the Observer’s editor, said: “The fishing community here and in nearby Rye are so important. Not only do they bring in business and tourists but they are a key part in the identity of both towns.
“We managed to get 3,000 people to sign our Save Our Pier petition - and it helped convince the local council to act. Hopefully we can do the same with the fishing.”
Simply fill in the cut out fish coupon in the Hastings Observer (February 4) and send it to Richard Morris, Hastings Observer, Woods House, Telford Road, St Leonards, TN38 9LZ and, when we have collected enough, the Observer will lead a delegation up to Downing Street and dump them on David Cameron’s doorstep - just like the fish being dumped off our coastline each day.
And anyone who wants to make a real splash is encouraged to stick the form onto a piece of card and decorate the back.
The campaign has already received backing from a host of local figures.
Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd was delighted to hear the Observer had decided to act.
She said: “It is a great idea.
“Our fishermen work long and hard are being crippled by the current quotas.
“To have people who are struggling financially being forced to throw back dead fish is ridiculous.
“I would urge everyone in Hastings and Rye to cut out their fish form, fill it in and send it back.
“This is such a huge issue for local people and together we can make a difference.”
And it was a sentiment echoed by Councillor Peter Chowney, the head of regeneration at Hastings Borough Council.
He told the Observer: “I think the current limits for our fishermen are, frankly, crazy.
“Our fishermen simply cannot survive on the cod they are allowed to catch.
“We have the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in Europe at the moment, but several boats are already up for sale. The local economy needs both the fishermen and their support ashore, and the visitors we know the fishing fleet attracts.
“I urge local residents and visitors to sign the petition to support our local fishermen, and call upon the Government to try and sort this mess out once and for all.”