Bid to get better deal for Lowestoft, Southwold and Great Yarmouth fishermen
An MEP has thrown his weight behind a bid to ensure under-threat fishermen in Lowestoft and Southwold are given a fairer deal.
Geoffrey Van Orden, MEP for the east of England, has challenged European fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki when she addressed a meeting of the European Conservative and Reformists Group in the European Parliament.
Mr Van Orden called for particular attention to be given to the needs of fishermen using small under-10m boats including about 18 based at Lowestoft, Southwold and Great Yarmouth, with most of the craft based in Suffolk.
The amount of fish that vessels are allowed to catch is set out by the EU in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
It varies according to time of year, type of catch and location but on average under-10m boats have access to just 4pc of the overall quota – despite making up 77pc of the UK’s fishing fleet.
The policy is now being negotiated and fishermen in Suffolk are demanding a fairer deal.
Mr Van Orden said: “I have always taken the view that the EU’s CFP was bad for the fishermen and bad for the fish and the commissioner recognised that many of us wanted a return of our fishing industry to national control.
“She has been a breath of fresh air in her attitude but, as a European commissioner, she still seems to attach more importance to the integrity of the EU treaties than to a sustainable fishing industry.
“She held out the encouraging prospect of 75pc co-financing for under 10m boats; assistance in upgrading vessels; and the advantage to coastal fishermen of a distinction between ‘fresh’ and ‘frozen’ in the labelling of fish.
“I take that as encouragement of my view that repatriating CFP is the only long-term answer.”
The Marine Management Organisation, the regulatory body for the UK’s fishing industry, has said it is working hard to find an alternative to current policy. Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon has said he is committed to reform.