Hastings Observer Column - 21 June

Since my very first day as your MP I have said I will do everything I can to support our fleets.

Our fishermen are now getting more quota than 2010, but there needs to be an even bigger increase.

This is why I have been meeting with my senior colleagues in Government like Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove to make the case for our fleets.

The result is that I was able to convince him to that designating Hastings as a “Marine Conservation Zone” would be a huge benefit to our fishermen.

The new designation will protect endangered marine life from harmful fishing methods. As Hastings fishermen are already sustainable, they have nothing to worry about.

As your MP I will always represent your interests and take them right to the very top of Government, so Hastings & Rye gets the best possible deal.

And when it comes to our fishing fleets, I know how important they are. The identity of our towns is tied to our historic high streets, unique culture, and of course our iconic fishing fleets. With both Hastings and Rye being Cinque Ports, they are some of the oldest settlements along our coastline and were set up to establish trading and defensive outposts.

So it is no surprise that our fishing fleets have been such a big part of our communities through generations. Hastings is unique with its famous fishing huts and the largest beach launched fleet in Europe – even with a shorter than average beach, the Hastings fishing community have found a way to succeed.

Hastings fishermen were also the first in the country to enjoy being certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council – an indication of their commitment to sustainability.

It is also vital that our fleet, which is made up of small boats, can manage its own quota. As it stands, it is unfair that the small boats, which make up 80% of fleets in the UK only have access to 2 per cent of the national quota. I have been holding more meetings in Westminster with my colleagues to get a better deal for our fleets and give them the ability to manage their own quota. It is not an overnight process, but I am glad that good progress has been made towards getting a fairer deal for our fishermen.

I recently had the pleasure to attend local photographer John Cole’s exhibition on “Fishing for Generations” which captured the importance of families within the fishing community. Many of the fishermen are teams of father and son, all of whom need the support of their mothers to fish each day. I look forward to catching up with our fishing fleet over the summer months.