Fishing groups in Eastbourne, Hastings and Newhaven declare state of emergency

Groups in Eastbourne, Hastings and Newhaven have called on the government to protect fishing communities and our oceans.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 9:34 am

The three fishing groups, along with the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, New Economics Foundation, Angling Trust, fishing businesses Sole of Discretion and Pesky Fish and Greenpeace, have all signed a joint statement calling for the UK government to take urgent measures to protect fishing communities and our oceans.

These urgent measures include permanent bans for certain types of fishing boats in certain areas of the English Channel and Southern North Sea, on the grounds of the precautionary objective in the Fisheries Act.

The hope is that these measures would boost catches for local fishers, revive coastal communities and provide space for marine ecosystems and fish populations to recover from years of devastation by industrial fishing. This would also be a vital step towards the UK government delivering its target of protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s and the world’s oceans by 2030.

Photo by Kristian Buus/Greenpeace SUS-211009-091134001

Fishers along the south and east coasts have had their livelihoods devastated after years of unchecked industrial fishing by huge boats – something that has resulted in ‘severely depleted’ fish populations, Greenpeace says.

According to Greenpeace, less than one third of key UK fish populations are in a healthy state.

Jerry Percy, director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, said, “It’s really quite simple, the small scale coastal fleet that the government has sworn to protect is now forced to watch their present and future livelihoods being destroyed in front of their eyes, firstly by the huge fleet of powerful EU owned fly-shooters that inexplicably have had all catch limits removed for their target species, and secondly, by massive EU midwater trawlers reducing the resilience of stocks in the Channel to the impact of climate change whilst threatening dolphin and porpoise populations.

“Tragically, it appears to be only Greenpeace that has been willing to lend its political and practical weight in defence of our coastal fishermen and communities.”

Photo by Andrew McConnell/Greenpeace SUS-211009-091144001

Chris Thorne, a campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said, “We’ve been at sea all summer bearing witness to the destruction taking place in the English Channel and nearby waters. We’ve worked closely with local fishers, and when you’re on the water with them, it’s very clear; our fishing communities are at breaking point.

“They won’t survive much longer without urgent action from the government.

“Fishing communities, anglers, charter skippers and environmental groups alike support these measures which will be an important step towards fully protecting at least 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030.

“We hope that by coming together to fight for the same thing, our government will finally start taking practical steps towards delivering this goal. If these requests are ignored, it’s clear that ministers are siding with the multinational fishing companies who are wrecking our oceans, instead of the local fishers who are the backbone of our coastal communities.”