‘Victory’ for Newhaven fishermen

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Small fishing boats, like those operating from Newhaven, won the right last week to a share of fishing quotas previously allocated to big fishing companies.

The High Court ruled these 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.

Some of the Producer Organisations have foreign-owned vessels among their members.

A South East Euro MP called it a ‘victory’ for small scale fishermen in her area but there was a more guarded response from a Newhaven fisherman.

Euro MP Sharon Bowles said: “For years small-scale fishermen in the South East have struggled to make ends meet because the bulk of the fishing quota allocated by the Government has gone to the large Producer Organisations.

“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 of yesterday’s judicial review 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.”

Martin Fuller, who operates a 6m fishing vessel out of Newhaven Port, said at this stage the fishermen had no idea how it would impact on them and it would probably take years to be implemented.

“If they are putting more fish into the port it can’t be a bad thing,” he said.

“I very rarely exceed any of my quota as one man on a small boat so it is probably not going to make a massive amount of difference to me.

“The 9.99m long boats are about as wide as they are long and it could have greater implications on them.”

Newhaven has 30 operational registered smaller sized fishing vessels with moorings on West Quay.

The majority of the fishermen are members of The Newhaven (Sussex) Fish and Flake Ice Society, which operates the fish market.

Quotas are set by the Marine Management Organisation for each area and change constantly. For instance, this month at Newhaven fishermen are allowed to catch one tonne of plaice.