House to Home with Amber Rudd MP: A fairer deal for our fishermen

THERE is much talk in Government about how to re-balance the economy. How to encourage industries other than financial services so the country is better protected against future booms and bust. And I am committed locally to doing all I can to encourage jobs, growth and new businesses.

This week I met up with SAGA who are still actively recruiting in Hastings, having employed 320 locally with a target of 800.

But I won’t forget old trades either. I am determined to get a fairer deal for our fishermen. Locally, we have known for years how the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), as implemented by DEFRA has damaged and in some cases destroyed the livelihoods of fishermen.

Now we have been joined by the rest of the country who share our indignation about discards.

They have been motivated to cry out against the current policy by the evidence of the absurd rules. That perfectly good, fresh fish is thrown back has become a national campaign.

That reinforces the case that many of us have been making to get a quota system that is re-balanced in favour of smaller fishermen.

Our local fishermen, in Hastings and Rye are the equivalent of the small shop, trying to stay in business when confronted with a new Tesco or Asda setting up on their patch.

We must change this. Now is the time to do that. On Thursday I brought down to Hastings the DEFRA Select Committee.

A Select Committee follows Government departments and is made up of MPs from all parties.

We have already published a tough criticism of DEFRA and its response to the CFP.

We took evidence from local fishermen and restaurateurs to try to strengthen our case for a reformed fisheries policy that supports local fishing communities.

I am determined to show fellow MPs the facts. What better way to do it than a visit to the beach and some straight talking with local fishermen.

• For more on this story pick up next Friday’s Observer (December 16).