A Green MEP highlighted the benefits of staying the European Union to Hastings fishermen during a visit to the town’s historic fleet on Wednesday (May 16).
MEP for the south east Keith Taylor learnt more about the £500,000 the fishery has received from the European Fisheries Fund as well as the Hastings Fisheries Local Group (FLAG).
Leave campaigners claimed the EU has ‘devastated’ fisheries as thousands of jobs have been lost since the UK joined the common fisheries policy (CFP).
But Mr Taylor claimed the union has supported many projects and jobs and is ‘vital’ to Hastings’ fishery.
“I’m delighted to have had the chance to see first-hand how EU funding in Hastings is helping to boost the fishing industry and promote sustainable fishing while at the same time encouraging tourism to the historic town,” he said.
“Hastings FLAG currently supports more than twenty projects, which, variously, help to protect the town’s fishing heritage, promote small local businesses, organise fish fairs, encourage low-impact tourism and lead Classroom on the Coast cookery schools.
“More importantly, for the fishermen I have spoken to, while the UK government has decided to prioritise large-scale factory fishing, it is EU funding that is currently driving the positive transition from industrial fishing to the long-term local sustainable fishing that provides such a vital boost to British fishing communities.
“Sustainable fishing protects our marine environment, supports hundreds of jobs, has a massive impact on the tourism industry, and is vital to the local economies of fishing communities like Hastings.”
The Green MEP discussed how the whole region’s fishing industry benefits from being in the EU with Yasmin Ornsby from the Hastings Fisherman’s Protection Society during his visit.
Mr Taylor was alos keen to learn more about FLAG which is a scheme that supports the Hastings fishery and encourages people to learn more about sustainable fishing and its impact on the economy.
The project also helps promote tourism in the town that is home to the historic Stade and Old Town where the continent’s largest beach-based fishing fleet is based.
Better Off Out director Rory Broomfield said the CFP, the single market within the EU that decides the quotas for each country, has unfairly reduced the amount UK fishermen can catch.
“The point is that the CFP has devastated fishing stocks in the UK, in the North Sea cod stocks have fallen from 250,000 tons to 50,000 tons in just 30 years,” he said.
Mr Broomfield added the number of British fishermen has fallen from 21,500 to 7,000 since joining the EU and said he could understand how this was ‘best for Britain’.
“I just can’t see the argument as the CFP has devastated rural fishing communities and will continue to do so while we stay in the EU,” he said.
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