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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 16:36 GMT
Fishermen to challenge cod quota
Hastings fishing fleet
The Hastings boats are now allowed to catch one cod each per day
Fishermen are to take legal action to challenge cod fishing quotas imposed by the government after a crisis meeting in East Sussex.

They say new quotas for the area fished by the Hastings and Rye fleet allow them to catch one cod per boat per day and will put them out of businesses.

The meeting on Friday in Hastings agreed to apply for a judicial review of the government's allocation.

Fisheries minister Jonathan Shaw said he had offered to meet the fishermen.

The new cod quota, which came into force this month, has cut the allocation for boats under 10m (32ft) 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.

There is talk of blockading harbours and lots of militant action, but there is no other way
Paul Joy

Hastings Fishermen's Protection Society says the south coast waters are teeming with cod which they have to throw back dead because of the quota.

"To be able to catch one cod a day, which is what 100 kilos a month means, it is not worth going to sea," said Michael Foster, Labour MP for Hastings and Rye, who supports the fishermen's case.

"But worse still, in many ways, is that if they do go to sea they catch more than 100 kilos in a single trip.

"They have to dump the rest - it is there but they are not allowed to catch it."

Fishermen from Ramsgate in Kent, Plymouth, in Devon, Wales and Colchester, in Essex, were at Friday's meeting.

Fishermen meeting in Hastings
Fishermen from across the UK attended the meeting in Hastings

They agreed to set up a new organisation, the Small Boat Fishermen's Association, which they hope will have about 1,000 members.

And they discussed direct action, including dumping fresh cod along the coast for people to pick up.

"There is talk of blockading harbours and lots of militant action, but there is no other way," said Paul Joy, spokesman for Hastings Fishermen's Protection Society.

"I have had many meetings with government ministers and keep pushing the point over and over again."

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

It added that Mr Shaw had offered to meet the fishermen to discuss their case.

Fishermen threaten to blockade ports in cod fury

Minister told of fisheries plan
30 Jul 07 |  Sussex
Fishermen take quota row to Blair
13 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties
Commission calls for cuts in cod
06 Dec 06 |  Science/Nature
Fishermen lose small boats appeal
29 Jun 06 |  Southern Counties
Small boat fish quotas 'unfair'
19 May 06 |  Southern Counties
Talks to help Hastings fishermen
05 Oct 04 |  Southern Counties

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