Fishermen fight for fairer quota

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FISHERMEN struggling to make a living out of Eastbourne will be meeting with politicians and activists this weekend to step up their campaign to secure a fairer share of the quota.

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.

Graham Doswell, who has been a fisherman in Eastbourne for 35 years, summed up the feeling locally.

He told the Herald, “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, across the south coast and down into the south west.

And their plight is winning sympathy with locals.

More than 650 people filled in cards urging the powers that be to do something to address the inequality in the current quotas system and these letters sit in a six-foot long fishing net ready to be presented to one of the region’s European MPs, Catherine Bearder, on Eastbourne seafront tomorrow (Saturday).

Mrs Bearder has pledged to do all she can to help the fishermen and will be speaking at the Redoubt at tomorrow’s Rock the Redoubt event.

Speaking earlier this week she said, “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.”