FISHERMEN in Eastbourne who face being driven out of businesses by unfair quotas were joined by a Euro MP at a demonstration on the seafront at the weekend.
Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder, Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and a delegation from international protest movement Greenpeace were in town on Saturday to back calls for a fairer deal on catch quotas.
Current laws see the smaller ships which make up the local fleet given a tiny percentage of the overall catch while larger boats dominate the industry despite being far fewer in number.
It is feared the fleet in Eastbourne may not last much longer if action isn’t taken to address the imbalance.
Graham Doswell, who has been a fisherman in Eastbourne for 35 years and was among those protesting at the weekend, summed up the feeling locally.
He told the Gazette, “It’s a classic story of greed and privilege.
“Big fishing barons have sewn up most of the fishing rights, leaving the small guys like us to share the leftovers.
“We’ve been fishing sustainability for generations – the law should support fishermen like us, not force us out.
“All we’re asking is for a fair crack at the fishing quotas so that we’re able to make a living out of sustainable fishing.”
Local boats have signed up to the Be a Fisherman’s Friend campaign, joining forces with similarly struggling fleets in nearby Hastings, and the south coast.
More than 650 local people filled in cards urging action to address the inequality in the current quotas system and these letters were presented to Mrs Bearder at the seafront event.
She told fishermen, “Fishing has been a way of life in coastal communities like Eastbourne for hundreds of years and we want future generations to be able to benefit from this heritage too.
“This year we have a once-in-a-decade chance to change the failed EU law governing the industry, put the health of our oceans first and offer a better deal to our fishermen.”