Mixed bag for fishermen

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WHITBY’s fishing fleet will be able to land more fish, but will have an “unmanageable” amount of days to catch them, following EU talks on Friday night.

The Government declared it had achieved victory for the UK fishing industry in the annual Common Fisheries Policy negotiations, but one Whitby fisherman said the changes are “nowhere near enough”.

James Cole, who fishes out of Whitby on the Good Intent III, said: “The increase is welcome but the days at sea is unmanageable, you can’t only fish for 100 days – you couldn’t survive.

“It’s nowhere near enough because we have had year on year cuts.”

While quota for haddock, whiting and plaice are all up 15%, the number of days allowed at sea is to be cut to around 100.

This reduction is set to further damage the Whitby fishing fleet, who must steam for a couple of days just to reach their fishing grounds, all of which takes away from their allowance.

To make ends meet the fishermen have a choice of renting extra quota and days at sea from other holders, which can include businesses that have little or nothing to do with fishing – Manchester United are widely reported to hold quota – or they can undertake other work, such as acting on guard duty for oil rigs and wind farm developments.

“The actual job of fishing is absolutely crazy, it’s unmanageable,” added Mr Cole.

“If we landed everything we caught we would still struggle, but we have to be at sea to make a living.

“There’s more fish there than the scientists would have you believe, there’s the fish to catch but because you have to rent days it’s all extra cost, it means you can’t stop because your expenses are so great.

“We’ve had to do guard duty just to keep our boats running, it’s an absolute godsend but now its coming to a close.”