IN pursuit of your excellent campaign to help our fishermen, I believe it would be useful to appraise your readers of some of the issues that make their support so vital.
This imposition of inequitable quotas placed upon our own small boats is not a problem that has been caused by any one British Government.
It is a situation created by the failings of a succession of weak governments in not challenging the basic information upon which the EC decides on the levels of fish stocks, and quotas.
This information should have been gathered locally, from men who have spent their lives in this part of the channel.
These fishermen are the finest conservators of the delicate ecological balance that is necessary to support a sustainable fishing industry. Why? Quite simply because their livelihoods depend upon the conservation of stocks, and the preservation of the traditional fishing grounds.
The enforcement of these inequitable quotas is draconian. The unacceptable practice of discarding parts of a catch continues. There are strong indications that this unwholesome activity is actually disrupting the ecological balance of the ocean. This is evidenced in the proliferation of echinoderms, scavengers that disrupt the natural development of many species. Not only cod, but plaice and sole have been discarded, all fish that could provide the healthy balance to our diet, that the nutritional experts continue to advocate for each of us.
There are also other serious implications for the sustainability of this traditional industry.
The unpredictable nature of the life of a fisherman fails to attract the younger generation to follow this way of life. With quotas set at levels that barely provide a living wage, no young person could plan a future, raise a family, or take on a mortgage when all of these attributes of normal life are subject to inequitable laws, calculated to deprive our town of its most traditional calling.
This industry is precious to our town, it is a significant part of our tourism offer, and it provides a living for a community. Our dream of regeneration will never be realised if we fail this traditional industry, and arrive at our vision of a renaissance, but without a single fisherman to share it.
Councillor Old Hastings Ward