A new proposed development, which will cost in the region of £1.3m, is to be built at the quayside in Eastbourne where the local fishermen berth, reports John Periam.
Currently, they have a small area reserved for them in Sovereign Harbour, which is east of the town. Storage facilities for static gear, together with parking, have always been an issue at the present location, which does not blend in with neighbouring properties. The local fleet moved there some 25 years ago when they were given an option to leave their previous working beach area. Now the Marina owners want to expand facilities for leisure boats, which will result in fishermen having to relocate again.
Graham Doswell, a third-generation fisherman, is the man behind the negotiations on behalf of the Eastbourne fleet, which comprises up to 72 fishermen.
Graham Doswell said: “Working from this small site has always been a problem for us. In October 2013, we decided to form our own community interest company to purchase the land. Initially, we appealed for local support and had a positive response from our local MP Stephen Lloyd, along with the Council and landowners Carillion.”
The fishermen have plans for processing and retail outlets, offices to work from and, hopefully, a purpose-built visitors centre that will promote the local tourist industry. It won’t be a large development, but will be ideal for what is needed. Currently, they have invested £350,000 of their own money towards the sum required, along with other relevant fees.
Graham Doswell continued, “We anticipate the total development costs will be £1.3m. 80% of this total will come from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, along with other grants, and support from East Sussex council. We must have a future to survive and we, as fishermen, feel this could be the best route to take.
“It is not an easy time for us, with the many regulations that are currently enforced. The past few years have seen some of the local fleet hang up their nets, while others, including myself, want to see future generations continue to fish from this part of the southeast coast. Some local skippers have invested in new vessels so they can fish mid-Channel each day. The fishing industry feeds people, and provides regional work.”
Fishermen at Eastbourne believe that now is the time to take on fresh challenges thanks to the pro-Brexit ministers, several of whom have constituencies along the south coast.
Graham Doswell concluded, “A successful Brexit could spell an end to fishing quotas. We need to manage our own waters, as we did in the past, to survive. We have a lot of support from the under-10m fleet that work around the UK coastlines. It is the right time to invest in our future, while we can benefit from EU Grants.”
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