Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 16:55 UK

'Worst fishing season' in decades

Fishing boat
Forecasters say the weather will remain unsettled

Bad weather has made 2008 the worst fishing season in Kent and Sussex for 40 years, according to local fishermen.

Graham Doswell, of the Eastbourne Fishing Fleet, said: "We only fish in small vessels on the Sussex coast and the winter was dreadful."

He added: "We have struggled with strong easterly winds and now souwesterlies and storms."

The Met office said the weather had been very unsettled this year and it was likely to remain the same.

Mr Doswell made his comments at the launch of the Fish on the Front Festival at Brighton Marina.

September is going to stay largely unsettled
Neil Armstrong
Local fishermen also said the problems had been compounded by the new cod quota which came into force in January.

Since the beginning of the year the allocation for boats under 32ft (10m) has been cut to 100 kg (220lb) a month.

Although fishing quotas are set by the EU, the UK government decides how much can be caught by large and small boats.

Kenny Thomas, chair of the Dungeness Fishing Association, supported Mr Doswells observations.

He said: "That has been the case, it's been terrible. We are now coming into the cod season but we can't catch cod because of the 10m cod quota which means we have to throw them back dead.

"It's been a really windy summer and you can't get afloat in this sort of weather. We'd now be looking to make up for that with the cod but we can't.

"What we want to know is why we're being victimised. We're only small boats, it's a small fishing community, we're the environmentally friendly ones."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said cod fishing quotas were constantly under review.

'Gale warnings'

Neil Armstrong national forecaster at the Met Office said the seas off the South East coast had seen unsettled weather since the start of the year.

He added: "Over the past 12 months there have been very few days when strong wind warnings have not been issued.

"There haven't been many consecutive days when winds have been light. There have been a higher than average number of gale warnings for the shipping area of Dover."

He added: "September is going to stay largely unsettled. The longer range forecast is looking like more of the same."

In pictures: summer storm
07 Aug 08 |  In Pictures
Minister told of fisheries plan
30 Jul 07 |  Sussex
Commission calls for cuts in cod
06 Dec 06 |  Science/Nature

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