‘Massive blow’ for fishermen as quota cut

IN another blow for the Hastings fishing fleet the quota for cod looks set to be cut by a third in the New Year.

In EU fish negotiations last week, the UK fought cuts to quotas across a number of different fish stocks.

However the small scale fleets, including Hastings, look set to lose out once again, as they suffer disproportionately from reduced access to fishing opportunities.

Paul Joy, chairman of Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society, said: “It is a massive blow for the Hastings fishing industry.

“It means for Hastings we will be in a far worse position.”

The quota for fishing cod in the 7d area, which includes the fishing fleets at Hastings and Rye is already extremely restrictive, but the further decrease would mean that in practice, fishermen would be permitted to catch less than half a cod per day.

He said that while there is much debate surrounding discards (where fishermen are forced to throw dead fish back into the sea to avoid exceeding their quota for a particular species), a consequence for Hastings fishing fleet of the further decrease in the quota for cod, would in fact be an increase in discards.

In fact, he said, local fishermen could end up discarding anything in the region of a thousand kilos of cod a day.

Fisheries minister Richard Benyon said: “This has been my third year attending these frustrating negotiations and I am delighted that we were able to secure the best possible deal for the UK fishing industry.”

While the quota for cod is due to be cut by 30 per cent, there is to be a 20 per cent increase for plaice, and six per cent for sole.

However Mr Joy said that the lack of quota for cod was the major problem: “No-one has taken sufficient time to look at cod.

“This issue has got to be dealt with. They keep pushing it to one side.

“We have been going year in, year out, trying to find out why our cod has been given away.

“The only thing we can do is keep banging on the door.”

This is particularly frustrating for the small scale fleets, he said, when the large producer organisations, with the lion’s share of the quota, have large amounts of uncaught cod at the end of the year.