www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Photo Chandra Masoliver

Photo Paul Stanley

Hastings Harbour: Promises, Empty Promises: Fishermen Protest against Tory Policy.

HOT’s Chandra Masoliver reports on the recent Fishermen’s Protest against Tory policy. She interviews three local fishermen, Paul Joy, Chairman of Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society (HFPS) and Co-Chairman of the New Under Ten’s Association (NUTFA), which protects the rights of under ten metre fishing boats; Paul Stanley, fisherman and boy ashore; and Roland Kelly, owner of RX52, RX53, RX54 and DR169. She also reports on her attempt to interview Amber Rudd on the Harbour Proposal.

Last Sunday 8 April 8, fishing boats from as far away as Dungeness and Newhaven arrived in Hastings Harbour waters to protest against the Tories’ decision that the UK will remain part of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) during the two-year Brexit transition period, due to start in twelve months.

The vast majority of fishermen voted to leave the EU in order to escape from the destructive CFP. Sadly, fish only represent 0.05% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (|GDP), so their plight is easily ignored by a party that betrayed them in the same way in the 70s, when Britain joined the Common Market. Both times Members of Parliament have been more considerate to farmers, who are often influential landowners in their constituency.

Photo Chandra Masoliver

Photo Chandra Masoliver

Environment Minister Michael Gove had given his word that the UK would withdraw from the CFP on leaving the EU. But now the EU will continue to set quotas from March 2019 until December 2020, with continuing loss of sovereignty over British waters. One wonders, if they remain in power, what they will do thereafter.

On 21 March, fourteen MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, wrote to PM Theresa May, saying “For the UK’s fishing industry, joining the EEC was a calamity. The resultant decline in the industry accelerated the economic and social decline in coastal communities, and was disastrous for conservation and marine development… we should take back control of our 200 nautical mile (nm) Exclusive Economic Zone as permitted under Article 61 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” They declared the Transition Deal to be “Completely unacceptable… a further disaster for the UK’s already shattered fishing fleet, particularly the inshore fleet.”

                                                               ***

Paul Joy in the East Hastings Sea Angling Association. Photo:Chandra Masoliver

Paul Joy in the East Hastings Sea Angling Association. Photo:Chandra Masoliver

CM: Paul Joy, please tell me about the aims of the amazing protest of more than forty fishing boats off Hastings harbour on Sunday 8 April.

PJ: It was to give the heads up to the general public, so they would understand how damaging it would be for the British Fleet to stay in the CFP. All over the country we demonstrated to show our solidarity.

Photo Chandar Masoliver

Photo Chandar Masoliver

CM: What is wrong with the present CFP? How does it handicap you?

PJ: It gives the EEC access to British fish; 82% of all European fish come from British waters, and in return we only got 8% back in monetary value.

CM: What do you think of Gove’s latest announcement?

PJ: There shouldn’t be a Transitional Deal. We are giving billions of pounds worth of British fish to our European counterparts. Theresa May has given direct orders to concede on fishing rights before this government has even flexed its muscles. This does not give me a lot of confidence about negotiations in the future.

In 1964 the London Convention was signed by thirteen countries, including Britain; it gave Grandfather Rights to those who had ‘habitually fished’ in coastal areas within six to twelve nm from land during 1 January 1953 to 31 December 1962. When we first joined the Common Market in 1973 this became an enabling tool for Europe to fish our waters.

Photo Chandra Masoliver

Photo Chandra Masoliver

Then there’s the problem of Relative Stability: that’s the fixed percentage each country is allocated. For example, in our coastal area 7D, from Hythe Bay to the Isle of Wight, Britain is allowed to fish 155 ton of cod, and in the same sea, France is allowed 1,880 ton, that’s almost twelve times more. Then with pollock, for every ton Britain lands the EU can take two hundred and sixty three times more from British waters.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg: there’s the Landing Obligation: this requires all catches of regulated commercial species on board to be landed and counted against quota. If a quota is exceeded, all fisheries in that area have to be closed for all fishing. The quotas are not realistic, they are unjust and bear no resemblance to the state of the stocks in question. I have a list for all the breeds of fish in British waters, coming out of Europe could put back billions of pounds into the British economy.

CM: Do you trust the government to take back control of our territorial waters under the Treaty of London Agreement of 1964?

PJ: I don’t know. France, Holland and Belgium don’t want to survive without access to British waters. 70% of French fish come from the six and twelve mile British waters. It’s even higher for the Dutch. Unlike them, we have fished sustainably for generations, only to have our waters plundered by foreign counterparts.

Rick and Paul Stanley. Photo Chandra Masoliver

Mick and Paul Stanley. Photo Chandra Masoliver

CM: Why do you think this government is being so weak regarding the fishing industry?

PJ: They originally gave away our fishing rights in exchange for gaining farming concessions. Just like when we entered Europe under Edward Heath, Heath and other MPs were in farming constituencies, there were very few fishing landowners. From the first the EU was better for farmers. I attended Brexit meetings, and no matter what I said we were sold down the river. The government capitulates for concessions elsewhere. Democracy is the process of taking a majority decision, and whether they like it or not, the majority decision was to exit from the EU.

Photo Chandra Masoliver

Photo Chandra Masoliver

CM: Do you feel our MP, Amber Rudd, supported you?

PJ: Amber Rudd talks of keeping our eye on the prize. There is no prize to wait for. Hastings is no longer a safe seat for her.

The EU hasn’t even flexed its muscles yet; we’ve capitulated on rights of access before the EU has even officially made a response.

CM: Paul Stanley, what’s your view on the situation?

PS: We demonstrated to show solidarity against the government selling off our fishing rights. That’s how they’ve used us historically – it was the UK government that shared out Britain’s fishing quota.76% of the whole British fishing industry is made up of small boats, but we only get 2% of the allocated quota.

People voted to leave; the government are just putting up obstacles. You don’t get MPs with fishing boats. Amber Rudd has no interest in us whatsoever; she just toes the line, she doesn’t care about us at all.

Photo Chandra Masoliver

CM: And Roland Kelly, how do you interpret what’s happening?

RK: Sunday’s demonstration showed big and small fishing boats standing side by side, not just the under or the over ten metre boats – we all want the same thing. Other countries fishing in our waters do very well, because they have over-fished their waters.

We want to come out of the CFP, take back control of our territorial waters and set our own quotas. Theresa May wants Brussels still in charge for the next twenty-one months. We are being sold off, traded off.

Amber Rudd will be moved to another constituency, she’d be turned on here because of her false promises.

Roland Kelly. Photo Chandra Masoliver

Roland Kelly. Photo Chandra Masoliver

Amber Rudd’s View:

On her Constituency site, Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye announced on Thursday March 29 2018

“I know many fishermen in our towns have found this announcement disappointing, but we must look at the bigger picture and see that the prize is still out there.

“I fully understand the concerns our fishing community has about the CFP and its impact and I am clear that we must make the most of the opportunity leaving the EU offers us to take back control of our waters and to ensure a fair share of quota for UK fishermen.

“The implementation period will allow us to make a proper transition to a future outside the CFP. This will give us time to prepare ourselves to take full advantage of the opportunities to revive economically, and for our marine environment to be managed sustainably. This is a significant prize, and I believe we must keep our eyes on it.

Amber added: “I will continue to advocate the concerns of fishermen in our towns to make sure their concerns are heard and addressed by the Government.”

However, Amber Rudd did not sign the letter declaring the Transition Deal to be “completely unacceptable”.

Photo Chandra Masoliver

Photo Paul Stanley

Addendum

My Attempt to Interview Amber Rudd about the Harbour Proposal and Hastings Fisheries: 

March 19 2018

Dear Amber Rudd,

I am a constituent of yours, (name, address and phone number, written as required)

I am writing a series of articles in the Hastings Online Times (HOT) about people’s views on the harbour proposal. I have done two on Peter Chowney, prospective Labour Member of Parliament, and Head of Hastings Borough Council. I will shortly publish one on the Green Party’s views, and those of the Liberal Democrats.

I therefore feel it would be very appropriate to interview you, as our MP, so that the Conservative party’s opinion is known. When I interview I ask the person a bit about themselves generally, and I always show them the article for their approval before publishing.

With best wishes,

Chandra Masoliver

Photo Chandra Masoliver

Photo Chandra Masoliver

Unfortunately, I have as yet not been granted an interview, so I have had to resort to quoting her from the Hastings and St Leonards Observer, 1 September 2017:

“This scheme has the potential to deliver fantastic new opportunities for our town through boosting the supply of housing, improving local transport, creating jobs and providing new facilities to our fishing fleet.

“However, we must make sure this development is in the best interests of our community. I’m pleased there will be further discussion and consideration of the proposals before a decision is made on whether to take it forward.”

Her comments on the harbour proposal and on the government’s latest CFP decision are both airily excited, yet tactically cautious, leaving me wondering where she stands – and also where she will stand.

Chandra Masoliver has written a number of articles about the harbour development proposal. To read them, please use the HOT search: Chandra Masoliver – or Hastings Harbour.

Photo Paul Stanley

Photo Paul Stanley

Posted 08:29 Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018 In: Home Ground

5 Comments


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  1. John

    Still don’t understand why the people of Hasting ever thought voting for her was a good idea.
    You must all be nuts.

    Comment by John — Thursday, Apr 19, 2018 @ 14:10

  2. Alan Griffiths

    The French, Belgians and Dutch fish in our waters as we do in theirs, although that doesn’t apply to our inshore fleets. A lot of Hasti gs fish is transported to Boulogne, there’s a French lorry turns up at least once a week to collect fresh fish from the fish market. How does that pan out when we leave 5he EU?
    What is seldom mentioned is who owns the fish quotas for the UK? The vast percentage of UK fish quotas are owned, not by fishermen, or even the fishing industry, but by investments companies, many from outside the UK, where they are bought and sold as a commodity, and then leased back to the small fishermen at a profit. The EC doesn’t set the allocations, that’s done in Westminster. The problem is in London not Brussels.
    As for our local MP. Has she ever showed much interest in the town? She took on the seat because it was winnable and close to London, ber words, and she has been disparaging towards some of her constituents. Her voting record is at odds with the needs of her constituents, constantly. If she’s had a rough ride, tough, she shouldn’t have accepted a job she is I’ll prepared to perform. Her predecessor is now the PM and between them the are making a hash of everything they do, or they do nothing. Rudd has sold Hastings short, the town.isn’t wealthy enough for her tastes and we will be well rid of her. Let’s have an MP who will truly represent the area and not just the wealthy.
    As for the proposed marina. Really? It would be a disaster and an eyesore the Old Town can do without.

    Comment by Alan Griffiths — Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018 @ 21:50

  3. Tommy100

    Do you not mean predecessor?

    Comment by Tommy100 — Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018 @ 21:33

  4. Cyril Gould

    Well done Chandra. The figures quoted by our fishermen are gobsmacking!
    Amber Rudd and her words about “the big prize” ring somewhat hollow. May we be spared more!

    Comment by Cyril Gould — Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018 @ 19:48

  5. Ms.Doubtfire

    Sad to say it is becoming increasingly clear that poor old Amber has given up on us and also the prospect of standing for election in Hastings and Rye in the next general election. The fire has gone from her commitment to protect our fishing industry here….by my reckoning she will be moved to a safe constituency or, possibly she will simply resign. She has not had an easy term in office as Home Secretary and we need to remember that many of the current problems have nothing to do with her role – these are problems created by her predecessors.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018 @ 13:09

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