In a fight for their very survival – Hastings fishermen join Sunday’s national protest

Twenty vessel flotilla intended to send a message to government

Fishermen call for public support


Hastings is one of six UK fishing ports joining a national day of protest on Sunday as fishermen nationwide voice their objections to the transition deal negotiated as part of the Brexit process that will see the UK remain part of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) until 2020.

The timetable of events for Hastings on Sunday are:

Hastings – 1600-1800 – (20 vessels)
Pelham Place Car Park

1600 – Muster off Hasting harbour pier – spread out from harbour entrance west.
1615 – Begin a slow anti-clockwise oval steam from harbour pier east to Hastings pier in the west.
1730 – Vessels begin to mass towards harbour pier stretching west along shore. Sound horns/fireworks/flares – burn EU flags.
18.00 – Vessels depart and return to home ports or berth in harbour.

Hastings fishermen will play their part in the national protest being staged on Sunday by Fishing for Leave (FFL).

Hastings is one of six fishing ports around the coast of the UK taking part in the event the others are Whitstable, Portsmouth, Milford Haven, Newcastle and Plymouth where a flotilla of over 80 vessels is expected.

The protest is being held to protest against the transition deal the UK government has negotiated with the European Union as part of the Brexit process, fishermen are unhappy that the terms of that deal lock them in to the hated Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) until 2020.

In total around 200 vessels are expected to mobilise in flotillas around the coast and organisers expect the demonstrations to be joined by what they describe as ‘top’ Conservative MPs and other campaigners for Brexit.

During the campaign leading up to the EU referendum in 2016 there was a now infamous flotilla on the river Thames close to parliament, Sunday’s protests are intended to be what organisers describe ‘regional replicas’ of that original event.

“The purpose of the protests is to show fishermen’s rage and to take our industry’s plight to the public,” said a spokesman for FFL.

Last month there was another demonstration on the Thames where fish were discarded outside Parliament in response to the news that the government had, as campaigners saw it, ‘capitulated’ to EU negotiators and included the UK fishing industry in the transition period which kicks in when we leave the EU in 12 months time and is expected to run for up to two years. Campaigners say the government has ‘sacrificed’ the fishing industry and ‘betrayed’ Britain’s coastal communities.

The spokesman said: “FFL and other Brexit groups are pushing for the public to turn out en mass around harbours to show support, solidarity and defiance and show their revulsion at the transition arrangements.

“We implore the public to get behind and support their fishermen and to invite friends, family and fellow Brexiteers to watch and show support – bring plenty flags and banners.”

The FFL campaign sees what has ben agreed by the government as part of the transition arrangements as not just a delay in the UK taking back control of its fishing industry but as a ‘death sentence for what’s left of the British fishing industry’.

“The transition period means obeying all EU law including the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy but with no say or veto. The EU will be free to enforce and impose detrimental rules on us to cull what’s left of the UK fleet,” say leaders of the FFL movement., adding, “the EU would be free to easily eradicate what is left of our fleet and has every incentive to do so.”

Campaign group leaders explain that the EU could achieve eradication of the UK fishing fleet by using what they describe as the ‘failed quota system’ that they say forces fishermen to discard fish they have already caught. When a vessel exhausts its smallest quota it must stop fishing and that, says FFL will bankrupt around 60 per cent of the British fleet.

They go on to say: “The EU can abolish the 12 mile limit that protects inshore and shell-fishermen. The EU can also change the relative stability quota share outs so the EU gets even more of our resources than the 60 per cent they catch already.

“Even worse, not only will we squander taking back control of a £6-8bn industry for coastal communities but the EU will use the government’s weakness to force a poor trade deal on the UK.”


There is genuine despondency among fishermen, the FFL spokesman said: “The vote to leave the EU was a godsend to our struggling industry and communities. It provided a golden opportunity to automatically repatriate all our waters and resources, worth £6-8 billion a year, and to launch new policies to rejuvenate our coastal communities and industry.

“Fishermen are sickened and enraged that our government has capitulated to obeying all EU law after Brexit. Consigning us to remaining trapped in the disastrous CFP until January 2021, and possibly trapped forever in exchange for a deal trade.

“The protest’s purpose is to take our industry’s plight to the public and to pressure MPs to not allow this surrender of our nation’s greatest renewable resource which can support generations to come.

“We have waited and hoped for 20 years to escape and the industry must mobilise to show politicians we won’t be sacrificed without a fight. Our communities might not matter to them, but they matter to us.

“Standing side by side as one united voice we can force change. We must act now.”

Check back throughout the weekend for further updates on this story.

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