Lowestoft Assessment on DEFRA Meet

June Mummery of Lowestoft Market Auctioneers BFP Eastern gives a frank and heartfelt assessment of East Anglia fishermens feelings following a meeting with civil servants from DEFRA.

Our honest feeling was there is no passion from DEFRA. No desire to take Brexit as a chance to to rebuild the British fishing industry with a policy that works for all fishermen rather than keeps going with the same bad system that has let us all down.

The feed-back we had from the fishermen from East Anglia DEFRA met was that we all felt quite deflated that the chance is slipping away to reboot the British industry with something new instead of the same old.

That the Civil Servants tried to bluff that we should keep quotas because Lowestoft is the only fishing port that wants Days-at-Sea is worrying and plain incorrect !  From working with fishermen all across the east coast there is a list of other ports, big and small, that want Days at Sea.
Aldburgh,  Orford ,Felixstowe, Harwich, Southwold, Hastings, Great Yarmouth, Ramsgate, Whitstable Leigh on Sea, North Shields, Eyemouth, Troon, Fleetwood,  Whitehaven, Mersey Island and boats afar as the Clyde and Northern Ireland among many more.

The Civil Servants know that a Cardiff University study survey showed that 85 % of Fisherman nationwide wanted some form of Days-At-Sea or Effort Control and only 15% wanted quotas. Well it’s true what they say “Money Talks”.

Our government should be looking after its people, not  the fat cats in industry that Theresa May was protesting about this weekend- the majority of fisherman in this country can’t make a living because the system doesn’t work.

We were really disturbed that the Civil Servants kept referencing the NFFO when it is well known that they have little domestic membership and that that around 75% of their members are Foreign flagships.

The East Anglia Fishermen’s Alliance alone just about represents more British fishermen than the NFFO, who have done very little to support the majority of the domestic UK fishing industry over the last few years,

Article 17 of the CFP springs to mind with the discrimination of non-sector and sector, and whos vision for Brexit is pretty uninspiring if not nearly non-existent.

The time has come when this government should help its people not just toddle along with managed decline to suit a few big interests- this isn’t just about Fisherman, this is about the chance of Brexit for the whole fishing industry, big or small, and the rebuilding our communities not continuing with the same old for a few.

Lowestoft alone had 134 boats before we joined the EU now we have 12 under 10 metre boats left. Whereas Holland, France and Spain have a flourishing industry on the back of the demise of the UK fishing Industry.

It is simple, if somebody is getting more (i.e. them), then somebody is getting less (i.e. US!).

DEFRA asked our Fisherman if a little more quota would help…… is this DEFRAs idea of sweeping the main issue that the quota system doesn’t work under the carpet by just trying to inflate the same bad system?

Of course more quota won’t help! In so many areas quotas are so far away from the amount of fish in the sea there would need to be massive increases that aren’t going to happen and especially not if it is allocated to the same few.

We don’t only need and want all of our waters and fish back – we need a new fishing policy that actually works, not another dose of the same bad medicine!

A vast majority of the British people voted leave thinking we would take back control of our waters and our Country and it’s time DEFRA stopped paying lip service in closed meetings and actually gave a full explanation of DEFRAs views and plans for the Brexit negotiations.

Where is the passion for our country gone in a government that needs to realise we have to take take this chance to do something positive not just hand wringing and negativity like “how will we cope when we leave”.

How did our ancestors cope… they built and rebuilt our Country and looked after it with determination and vision- they rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in so that we would have a better life, well that’s what we want for our children’s children with Brexit.

I had an interesting 3 day visit to Iceland recently and I loved the Icelandic ethos and the way the government works with their people to ensure a well-run industry. What I didn’t like was their quota system that see’s everything in the hands of a few and that is where we are heading.

That is their business and I’m sure it works for them but in Britain we need a system that rebuilds coastal  communities, not one that just looks  for maximum efficiency from a few – if Mr Gove, his civil servants and this government want a success of rebuilding coastal communities then they have got to choose a new system rather than continue the bad system of quotas for a few.