Court ruling to give fairer deal to fishing fleet

Rye Fleet
Rye Fleet

RYE fishermen could be in line to get a fairer deal following a High Court ruling to give smaller boats a bigger share of the quotas previously allocated to big fishing companies.

The news has been given a cautious welcome by local fishermen with spokesman Ronnie Simmons commenting: “It sounds like good news but we need a clearer definition of the ruling.

“We are waiting to hear more details before we comment further. They are saying we can get ten percent more but ten percent of what?

Big fishing companies, known as Producer Organisations, some of which have foreign-owned vessels among their members, have been given the lion’s share of quotas.

But the recent High Court found Producer Organisations did not effectively “own” the quotas granted by the UK Government, therefore they could be redistributed to smaller scale fishermen with vessels less than 10 metres long, such as those at Rye and Hastings.

South East Euro MP Sharon Bowles said: “In some cases Producer Organisations have surplus quota which is leased on for a profit, while small-scale fishermen have been allocated quota as little as half a cod per day per boat.

“The outcome is a victory for small-scale fishermen in the South East and I hope it will reinvigorate the dwindling inshore fishing communities which have suffered for so long.”

Britain’s small fishing fleets employ 65% of the workforce in the fishing industry, yet only have licences for 4% of the fish quota.

Rye Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen said: “This is a landmark decision for our local fishermen.

“This ruling paves the way for the reallocation of the quota to those who fish in the most sustainable way. I want to see a fairer distribution of quota to support the local fishing fleet in Rye. It is not only a vital part of our local economy but also our history and heritage in Rye and Hastings.