Fisheries will be shut down if cod quotas are not addressed, according to fishermen in Hastings.
New EU legislation banning throwing fish back overboard, set to come into force in January, could jeopardise small fisheries according to Hastings Fishermen’s Society chairman Paul Joy.
He said the demersal discard ban will be the death knell for the under ten metre fleet unless quotas are sorted out.
“The fishery will be shut down if cod is not addressed,” he said.
“The whole fishery will be shut down because cod has not been addressed.”
Mr Joy said cod is so abundant at the moment that they catch much of it without trying. If they are forced to bring back the cod due to the ban then they will be shut down because of limits on how much they can ‘land’.
Cod is not currently one of the species which has limits on the amount that can be caught but if it becomes one, Mr Joy fears for his and fellow fishermen’s livelihoods.
“Whiting and sole are the only ones at the minute but as soon as cod is one of the species it will close fishery as we can’t avoid it,” he said.
“We’re angry because we have been constantly saying this for a long time.
“I’m in favour of not throwing back fish but if the stock is strong and the fish are there then we should be able to catch them.
“We’re not targeting the cod it’s just a side catch, but it can’t be avoided as it’s so abundant.”
The European Union is responsible for the ban and have a lot of control over fishing quotas.
Mr Joy says the British fleet get an unfair slice of the fishing quotas for The Channel compared to the French.
“The UK gets eight per cent and France have 76.4 per cent of quota for The Channel,” he said.
“So how do you think we feel about leaving Europe?”
As previously reported by the Observer, the government announced a £43m European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to help fishermen cope with the demersal ban on Monday, October 19.
Fisheries minister George Eustice promised to allocate the first 100 tonnes of quota uplifts to the under ten metre fleet.
Mr Joy welcomed the announcement but still believes cod quotas were not addressed which he says is the linchpin.
“The problem of cod needs addressing properly, we’ve been saying this since 2006,” he said.
“It is the key issue which will shut all fisheries.
“The government has its head in the sand hoping it goes away but the only thing that will go away is the fisheries – it’s nonsense.”
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