Taking the fight to Number 10

Number 10, Downing Street
Number 10, Downing Street

THE Observer is taking the fight for a fairer deal for Hastings fishermen all the way to Downing Street.

Almost 3,000 people have backed our campaign calling for an end to the appalling practice of fishermen being forced to throw dead fish back into the sea and a change to the quota system which currently threatens the future of fleets like those in 1066 Country.

We asked readers to cut out fish coupons and send them back to us. And you did not disappoint.

Dozens have been turning up at our Woods House headquarters every day since the campaign got underway on February 4.

And on Monday a delegation led by Observer editor Keith Ridley will be delivering them straight to the doorstep of Number 10.

Mr Ridley said: “The response from our readers has been amazing and just goes to show how important the fishing community is to the people of this town.

“We have the largest beach-launched fleet in Europe and the fishermen, the nets and the boats are as much a part of the town’s identity as Hastings Pier was.

“To lose the fishing industry as well would be devastating - but that is what could happen unless there is a change to the way the quotas are being given out and people are no longer forced to chuck back good quality, edible fish.

“There are families who have fished these waters for generations. It would be terrible if all that heritage and traditional was lost. “We will be taking our fish coupons to London with a message - a message from the people of this town: Our fishermen deserve better and it is about time they got it.”

Hastings MP Amber Rudd will meet the band of fish campaigners in Westminster on Monday morning, before the group heads to David Cameron’s front door - armed with netfuls of coupons.

Ms Rudd, who sits on a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) committee which has recently been discussing the impact of quotas, has back the Observer campaign from day one.

She said: “This is such an important issue for Hastings. Together we can make a difference. Something needs to be done to help out hard-working fishermen.”

The committee this week heard evidence from Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon.

“He is determined to change the current situation and was highly critical of the status quo,” added Ms Rudd. “It is clear that change is in the air in DEFRA and that the minister wants to support our under 10m fishermen and small fishing towns, like Hastings, to which fishing is so important.”

For full coverageof the visit to Number 10, see next’s week Observer.