Fishing campaign wins quota victory in EU battle

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A campaign to defend the Yorkshire Coast’s shrinking fishing fleets from EU bureaucracy has scored a major victory after leaders appealed for clemency on quotas.

A high-ranking official pledged to fight Scarborough, Whitby, Filey and Bridlington’s corner in an upcoming review of restrictions which currently force boat owners to throw much of the catch back into the sea to avoid falling foul of quota limits.

A campaign to persuade European Union fishery chiefs to bend the rules on catch restrictions to ensure the survival of dwindling fleets in three of Yorkshire’s oldest fishing communities was launched before Christmas.

Thirty years ago, 130 trawlers operated out of Yorkshire coast ports, but the number of boats has now shrunk to just 12, with only eight remaining in Scarborough.

Fishermen blame European bureaucracy including restrictions on catches and the number of days boats can spend at sea.

A plea has been made direct to Commissioner Maria Damanki, director-general for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in Brussels to mitigate the impact of the EU fisheries policy on Scarborough, Whitby, and Filey.

Scarborough Council executive member Peter Popple, who is also chairman of the Whitby Harbour Board, says current restrictions are having “ongoing and devastating impacts” on all three fishing fleets.

Now Ms Damanki has replied that officials are currently working to reform the policy to make it simpler, more efficient, and to make sure decisions are taken at a more local level.

They were also looking to allowing the fishing industry more freedom to police itself.

The problem of fishermen having to throw away part of the catch just to satisfy quota restrictions was something that had been high on her own agenda since she took office.

She added: “I consider it a shameful waste that cannot be justified and should certainly not be encouraged by the EU or any other legislation.”