After the EU fishing quota negotiations, fisheries minister, George Eustice claimed he secured the best possible deal for fish stocks and the UK’s fishing industry.
But this year the focus should be less about how much he brings back and more scrutiny on who receives the lion’s share of this hard-won quota. For decades the businesses that have reaped the rewards of this annual quota tussle in Brussels have been those that own factory fishing vessels, many of which are controlled by foreign interests.
These industrial fishing businesses have made a fortune, whilst local, sustainable fishermen in Eastbourne and Hastings have been given barely enough quota to make a living. Small scale boats make up almost 80 per cent of the UK’s fishing fleet, but are given just four per cent of the quota.
George Eustice should this year break the status quo. If not because he believes in fair fishing, but because it is law. Under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, the UK government should prioritise quota for those that fish most sustainably and contribute to coastal economies.
Small scale fishermen are asking for more quota to fish sustainably and seasonally all year round. This means putting them at the front of the quota queue instead of giving them the crumbs. This will create thousands of jobs, rejuvenate our struggling coastal economies and better protect marine life.
Chairman, Eastbourne Fishermen’s Protection Society