EU dubbed 'draconian' as sea anglers targeted in fish quotas

TOURISTS and anglers could be stopped from a day's fishing off the Yorkshire coast because of "crazy" new Brussels proposals.

People fishing from beaches, piers and kayaks face being given strict quotas of how much they can catch under the European Commission plans which risk hitting the region's economy.

It could mean any fish which is caught would have to be weighed and registered and once the quota was exhausted anglers would risk a 50,000 fine if they do not put their rods down.

There is growing anger over the proposals amid fears they would seriously damage tourism and fishing-related businesses, particularly in popular angling spots off the east coast such as Scarborough and Whitby.

The Government is also talking to some of Britain's million and a half sea anglers before deciding whether to attempt to block the proposals.

Angler Iain Sellers, 42, from Scarborough, said: "You can't compare recreational sea fishing to commercial fishing. This is a tradition going back years.

"They're saying that if this quota is reached in, say the middle of February, this tradition has just gone because of some bureaucrats in Brussels."

MPs and MEPs are also opposing the "draconian" proposals. UK Independence Party Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire MEP Godfrey Bloom said: "Fish stocks are not suffering because of recreational anglers and quotas would be completely unenforceable.

"Towns such as Whitby would be devastated by this decision."

The measures are part of a package of European Commission proposals covering the Common Fisheries Policy, aimed at protecting endangered species. Quotas setting limits on how many of certain species including cod, ling and pollack each member state can catch are currently applied only to commercial fishermen.

But under the proposals, member states would have to set aside part of their quota for recreational fishermen who catch only a handful of fish.

When that quota was filled, anglers would be banned from catching any more. The proposals would also prevent them from selling on any fish they catch and would subject them to tougher regulations registering their catches. Boat skippers who take people on recreational fishing trips, a popular excursion for holidaymakers, could be made to apply for licences, giving them extra cost and bureaucracy to contend with.

UKIP claims the industry is worth 1bn a year including equipment, accommodation and boat hire, with ports earning millions from recreational angling fleets.

Tory MP for Scarborough and Whitby Robert Goodwill said: "The amount of fish taken by recreational anglers is minimal and many of them make a real contribution to the coastal resorts.

"In Whitby there are a number of boats which make their living by taking out recreational anglers, and this will be another restriction for them."

Tory MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Edward McMillan-Scott said: "It's a ludicrous proposal. I'm very very hostile to the common fisheries policy – I think it's been a disaster in the North Sea.

"In my time I've seen fleets in Grimsby, Bridlington, Scarborough and Whitby decimated.

"We're now having fishermen scratching for a living and this is just silly. People I've spoken to in Brussels think it's crazy bureaucratic nonsense."

A Defra spokesman said: "This is one of a number of proposed changes by the European Commission which we need to examine carefully, and we are speaking to anglers."