Fishing is emblematic of our coastal communities and the fleets in both Hastings and Rye are important sources of jobs, skills and immense local pride.
After a grossly unfair initial allocation of quota a decade ago, which left our fishermen with catch limits which were too small, working to help the industry has been a constant challenge.
However, I am now more optimistic for our fishermen’s future than I have ever been previously.
Recently, I met the Fisheries Minister along with industry representatives to discuss the formation of a Coastal Producer Organisation (PO). This organisation will bring together the English Under-10m inshore fishing fleet so they can operate on the same level and benefit from the same opportunities as the existing POs – those composed of larger vessels which took the lion’s share of quota to begin with and have held onto it since.
The Coastal PO will give local fishermen control and the ability to manage their quota. It will ensure our fleet continues to fish sustainably but also that the collective pool of quota is managed in the best interests of coastal communities such as Hastings and Rye.
After having overcome a number of hurdles and with the clear support of the Minister for the initiative, the application for formal PO recognition is well advanced – I have written a letter in support of this application, which I hope will help speed up its approval. Coastal PO organisers are in detailed discussions with officials to determine the precise shape and structure for the organisation.
I will continue to look to help in any way I can with this process or any other support our truly invaluable fleets might need.