BY KENT BARKER

The European Parliament has voted to outlaw electric pulse fishing – a practice long criticised by the Hastings fleet.

The recommendation came from the European Committee of the Regions whose rapporteur or lead member is Emily Westley, a local Hastings Borough Councillor.  Following the vote she said: “The outcome is an important win for the environment and also for small scale fishermen that have used traditional fishing methods for generations.”

Electric Pulse Fishing is a controversial method used mainly to catch flatfish like sole and plaice. It involves sending an electric current from the trawl gear which forces the fish up and into the nets. 

Hastings is home of the largest European beach-launched fishing fleet but local fishermen have been vehemently opposed to the Common Fisheries Policy and as a body have favoured withdrawal from Europe.  Now a European initiative will directly benefit them.

As HIP has reported in the past, Brexit is likely to bring considerable uncertainly to British fishermen in general and the local fleet in particular as there is serious doubt that it will increase quotas or enlarge fishing the areas for which they have campaigned.  In the run up to last year’s election Hastings Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates both warned local fishermen not to expect any improvement in quotas after Britain leaves the EU, while MP Amber Rudd refused to commit to the abolition of the quotas even if Britain withdrew from the Common Fisheries Policy.

Cllr Emily Westley said that continued co-operation with and involvement in Europe is vital, “Working collectively is the only way to make the right decisions for local communities. Brexit is putting that relationship in serious danger of extinction and I call on all the decision makers to really consider the local and regional impacts of Brexit. How will the ordinary people’s voices be heard?”

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