Fisheries will be shut down if the EU ban on throwing away fish is accepted, say fishermen in Rye.
The demersal discard ban, that comes into force in January, could jeopardise small fisheries according to retired fishermen and representative Ronnie Simmons.
He said the ban will be the death knell for the under ten metre fleet.
“If discards come in we will be finished as a fishing fleet – it’s as simple as that,” he said.
“If it comes in we can’t dispose of fish, it has to go for fish meal.
“We’re very concerned as this is the worst thing to happen to fishing ever.”
Mr Simmons said the fishermen are still in talks over the legislation and have met with Rye MP Amber Rudd and the department for environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) in a bid to change it but nothing has been done yet.
The government announced a £43m European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to help fishermen cope with the demersal ban on Monday, October 19.
Fisheries minister George Eustice promised to allocate the first 100 tonnes of quota uplifts to the under ten metre fleet.
Fishermen will have larger quotas which can be banked, borrowed and swapped as they wish.
Alex Stanmore from the Harbour of Rye Advisory Committee (HoRAC) said at the time: “HoRAC welcomes DEFRA’s commitment to preserve a profitable fishing industry and thriving local communities.
“We are pleased that a blanket ban has not been introduced and that there are possible exemptions for the fishermen. HoRAC and the Rye fishermen are seeking a meeting with DEFRA to clarify how the new rules will apply given the Rye fleet fishes across two sea area, to agree a plan to both preserve fish stocks, and to ensure an economically sustainable future for the Rye fishing fleet.”
Mr Simmons believes fishermen should be able to throw fish back into the sea.
He said the fish live if they are put back and the breeding groups stay intact for future fishing.
Paul Joy, chairman of Hastings Fishermen’s Society, is in favour of the ban but believes changes need to be made to cod quotas as the fish is so abundant and is the ‘linchpin’ of it all.
“The problem of cod needs addressing properly, we’ve been saying this since 2006,” he said.
“It is the key issue which will shut all fisheries.
“The government has its head in the sand hoping it goes away but the only thing that will go away is the fisheries – it’s nonsense.”
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