EU catch ban forces fishermen to ‘waste’ stocks

FISHERMEN are being forced to ‘waste’ fish due to a ban on catching the area’s three main species.

Skate and ray fisheries for the south coast were closed at the end of September, with plaice fisheries stopped on October 23.

The quota for cod has been reduced to 400 kilos until Christmas - at 80p per kilo, fishermen can make just £320.

John Booker, 70, who runs a fish stall on the East Worthing promenade is one of many fisherman affected by the ban.

He said: “I don’t understand the way they do quotas. You should not have to throw it all away.

“I don’t know what their plan is, but throwing away all this fish when most of the cod is dead, is such a waste.”

Quotas are set annually by the European fisheries minister, limiting the amount of fish that can be caught each year in an effort to preserve stocks.

A total allowable catch is then calculated by the UK government’s Marine Management Organisation, numbers which have tumbled dramatically in recent years as the organisation attempts to reach a sustainable yield target set for 2015.

Mr Booker added: “I’ve been catching so much ray, skate and cod and I’m fed up with throwing it all away.

“For example, we catch undulate ray everywhere in Worthing. And while it is fortunate that they tend to still be alive when we catch it, you have to be pretty quick back into the water to save them and sometimes you’ll rip your net.

“I saw this programme on TV and in Norway they were catching all this fish and exporting it to Britain. Apparently because we don’t have enough of it - they didn’t say it was because we throw it all away.”

This year the Marine Conservation Society reported the ecosystem of the English Channel has been transformed by fishing, with rays and other low food chain level species at historic lows.

But the fluctuating regulations governing how local fisherman can operate is causing frustration among traders, many of whom are worried about the impact on their businesses.

Tony Delahunty, chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) and chairman of the Federation’s South East Committee, said the aim was for the MMO to successfully swap additional quota with another country.

“There’s a lot of fish that’s not been caught so we might be able to swap quotas.

“It’s put undue pressure on the fishermen trying to make a living.

“There will be a point where it won’t be financially viable for them to continue.”