ONE of Whitby’s representatives in the EU has played down hopes that European laws which force fishermen to throw dead fish overboard could be scrapped as the town’s fishing industry hits crisis point.
On Tuesday, long-awaited plans to overhaul EU laws which force fishermen to discard dead fish were discussed in the EU to ban the practice which is a consequence of fishing quota rules.
Following Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels on the issue of fishing policy reform, Euro MP Godfrey Bloom said: “Nothing concrete was decided. They won’t get rid of the quota system.
“It’s a system from the lunatic asylum. There was no road to Damascus conversion here.”
Currently, fishermen are forced to discard dead fish as a result of the quota system, which limits the number of fish that trawlermen can land.
The quota system has also been blamed by many in Whitby for the decline of the town’s fishing fleet.
Hopes have been raised that the practice of discarding dead and dying fish could be banned by 2013.
But Mr Bloom is demanding an immediate ban. “The situation is dire,” he said. “They should have come back and said the quota system, which leads to the discards, stops from midnight tonight.
“We have to get our fishing policy back to Westminster. In Europe they are just talking about talking about changing things. We need to take immediate action.”
Commissioner Damanaki told the Brussels meeting: “I consider discarding of fish unethical, a waste of natural resources and a waste of fishermen’s efforts. So far we have tried to tackle discards with technical measures. But let’s be honest, if we continue this it is like treating a serious illness with Aspirin.”
However, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, due in Scarborough today for the party’s annual conference where Whitby skipper Richard Brewer will be addressing delegates, has warned that even if a ban is introduced, it is likely to be too little too late for the UK’s fishing industry.
Last Friday the Whitby Gazette revealed how the town’s sole remaining fishing vessel agency, Alliance Fish Whitby Ltd, was struggling to balance the books and is cutting down its operations.
These include mothballing the commercial ice plant as a result of EU restrictions which it said were beyond its control.
Joint skipper of the Good Intent III, James Cole said: “I feel sad. It’s another nail in the coffin. We aren’t going to get any major fish landings back into Whitby without an ice plant. It’s a concern.”
The directors of Alliance Fish are exploring options to save the fishing vessel agency side of the business, which includes Whitby’s fish market. A decision is expected some time this month.
Scarborough Borough Council is also continuing talks with representatives from the industry to try and ensure that fishing activity at Whitby continues.
The Whitby Gazette launched its Fight For Our Fleet campaign earlier last year and has got more than 3,000 signatures of support calling for realism to be put back into the industry.
It was later followed by celebrity chef Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign, which added further pressure over the issue, with 650,000 people signing a petition supporting a ban on discards.
The Whitby Gazette is still collecting signatures for its Fight For Our Fleet campaign at our Bridge Street office.s,
And people can also read the latest news on our Fight For Our Fleet Facebook page.