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Suffolk: Fishermen’s EU fight for fairer fishing policies

18:35 19 November 2012

The UK representatives at the European Artisanal Fishermen

The UK representatives at the European Artisanal Fishermen's Congress in Brussels. Representatives of small-scale fishermen from across Europe meet at the congress to put coastal and low-impact fishing at the heart of the on-going reform of European fisheries policy. Small-scale vessels account for about 80% of the European fishing sector, but the European Union quota, subsidy and management systems have for decades favoured unsustainable industrial operators. Delegates adopt a joint declaration advocating environmentally friendly fishing to protect the oceans and ensure that fishing has a future.

© Greenpeace / Philip Reynaers

TWO fisherman took their small boats’ fight to Europe demanding a new fisheries policy that is fairer to small-scale coastal fisherman.

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Kirk Stribling and Roger Hipwell travelled to Brussels on Saturday with a delegation of UK fisherman attending the first European Artisanal Fishermen’s Congress aiming to influence the ongoing reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy which governs the fishing industry.

Mr Stribling, from Aldeburgh said: “There’s no future for our seas and our fishing communities in a system that puts quota, subsidies, and influence into the hands of a minority of large-scale, often destructive, fishing operations.

“The majority of UK fishermen, who are small-scale and tend to fish sustainably, are left with barely enough to scrape by.”

The delegation was joined by dozens of others from European countries including France, Greece and Croatia.

Despite making up over three-quarters of the British fishing fleet, small-scale fishermen only have access to four percent of the UK quota, with the rest being controlled by a handful of Producers Organisations, which represent larger boats.

Mr Hipwell, from Orford, added: “It was good to learn that the other European countries are having similar problems to us and that they are excluded from fishing sufficient fish to cover their costs.”

The declaration is due to be presented to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council Presidency this week.

It asks to grant the right to fish to those who fish sustainably, reduce fleet over-capacity where it exists, while preserving jobs in artisanal, low impact fisheries, end harmful subsidies and unsustainable and destructive practices and restore the health of seas in Europe and across the globe.

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