Bleak start to the year for fishing fleet

Quota Cut
Quota Cut

IN what will be a massive blow for Rye’s fishing fleet the quota for cod looks set to be cut by a third this year.

The news comes just weeks before the local fishing industry and the Rye Bay Catch will be celebrated in the week long Scallop Festival.

EU negotiations have been taking place and the UK has been fighting cuts to quotas acroiss a number of different fish stocks.

But the small under ten metre fleets, such as that at Rye, are set to lose out once again as they suffer disroportionately from reduced access to fishing opportunities.

Paul Joy of the Fisherman’s Protection Society said: “It is a massive blow to the local fishing industry and means that places like Rye and Hastings will be in a far worse position.”

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

Mr Joy 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, one consequence in the quota decrease would be more discards.

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

Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said: “This has been my thoird year of attending these frustrating EU 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 set to be cut by 30 percent, there is to be a 20 percent increase plaice and a six percent increase for sole.

However, Mr Joy said 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 yet they keep pushing it to one side.

“We have been going year in, year out trying to find why our cod is being given away. The only thing we can do is keep on banging on the door.

“This is particularly frustrating for small scale fleets when the large producer organisations get the lion’s share of the quota and still have large amounts of uncaught cod at the end of the year.”