'We're going to get it back' - campaigners kick-start plans for fishing industry renaissance
PUBLISHED: 17:13 18 January 2019
A group of individuals dedicated to revitalising East Anglia's fishing industry has joined forces for the first time to kick-start its plans.
The first meeting of the Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries (REAF) steering group, including Waveney MP Peter Aldous and members of the local fishing community, took place in Lowestoft this afternoon.
Established following the Brexit referendum, REAF has been working towards obtaining funding to allow them to conduct a thorough investigation into the potential impacts and growth of the fishing industry.
Having secured more than £130,000 worth of funding, including almost £100,000 from the Marine Management Organisation, the group has appointed Vivid Economics as its consultant for carrying out the necessary research.
Among Vivid’s responsibilities over the next few months is to identify opportunities offered by leaving the EU and pinpoint the investment required to maximise those opportunities.
Paul Lines, chairman of Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance and REAF steering group member, said: “I’m very positive about this whole project, ecstatic in fact. It is long overdue that someone realised the fishing industry can be and will be a major employer in the future.
“Our aim is to regain the area’s fishing capabilities, but support for the industry has to come from government grants and this project will identify where grant money is needed.
“I came here in 1974, to a town buoyant from fishing. Every other business had an involvement in the industry and slowly that was eroded by Europe - but we are going to get it back.”
Despite being scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, questions remain over its departure of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that sets down a quota system for member states.
But Mr Aldous, who chaired today’s meeting at the Riverside council offices, said the formation of REAF has presented an opportunity to prepare an alternative strategy and get local people back onside.
“This is the start of the whole REAF project, including setting out a new UK fishing policy to replace the CFP,” said Mr Aldous. “I was part of the committee discussing the new Fisheries Bill at the of last year and it will come back to the House of Commons in the next few weeks.
“A lot of people feel that, over the years, the best interests of the industry have not been served and there has been a certain level of suspicion towards politicians like myself. This stage is the hard graft but we are intent on delivering our aims.”