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DEREK CLARK: Fishermen do not deserve nonsense they must endure

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

By Derek Clark, MEP for the East Midlands

Derek Clark

Derek Clark

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My last column included a promise to go on helping the Lincolnshire Sausage Association to acquire GPI status for their sausages. However, if you caught Janet Godfrey's comments in the Echo recently you will know that DEFRA have turned it down. The LSA are therefore going for the "traditional classification."

I must return to two topics featured in earlier columns; windfarms and the Boston fishermen. Believe it or not, these are closely linked.

Comments in the Echo have reported the county council's declaration to resist further wind farm developments but it is less successful in stopping offshore windfarms.

There are some 60 turbines in the sea just off Skegness beach and it seems that this is to be increased by 100 or more. They will be just as useless as those on shore, generating power for only 30 per cent of the time.

Being anchored on the seabed they also seriously affecting fishing. The hazard they present to shipping means they need an exclusion zone round them.

Enter the fishermen. Because of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Boston fishermen have no licence these days for white fish.

Shellfish tend to congregate in large numbers around submerged objects, including these wind turbines. The fishermen want seed mussels, which they take back to their lays, to grow them on ready for the market. They now have permission to go into the exclusion zone from late February, at their own risk of course.

Now the fishermen have been landed with new, ridiculous bureaucracy. They used to complete a written log after every trip, recording the weight of catch, and so on, doing that in the comfort of their own home. Now they have to do that electronically, using a lap-top supplied by DEFRA, but not from home – or even on dry land.

They will have to record the times of leaving harbour, when they started fishing, the weight of catch and other details. But this has to be done at the exact time of each stage.

The fishermen of Britain used to turn over some £135 billion every year. Couple that with recent figures showing that in 1938 we had 47,824 fishermen, down to 28,254 in 1960 and now 15,649, indicating the decline of our fishing fleets caused by the CFP.

Of course some EU supporters will say that there are "too many boats chasing too few fish." True, but it's mostly Spanish fishing boats. I said that in a speech in the European Parliament some time ago. No one contradicted me.

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