A marine conservation charity has launched a short film to celebrate one fisherman’s fight to bring Bognor Regis fishing ‘back from the brink’, reports Paul Scott.
The Blue Marine Foundation film, Bognor Fishing – Back from the Brink, captures the journey of Clive Mills as he ‘takes the first steps to bring fishing back into the heart of the coastal community’.
The charity says that following centuries of fishing tradition, Bognor’s inshore fleet had become ‘almost extinct’.
It said: “Hundreds of small boats landed their catch at Bognor Regis over the years but, like the fishermen’s cottages before them, the fishermen themselves were becoming a thing of the past.
Now the fight is on to reinvigorate fishing at Bognor Regis once more and ‘bring it back from the brink’.”
Clive Mills, a fourth-generation fisherman, is leading the revival. His efforts saw him shortlisted last month in the Under-10m category in this year’s Fishing News Award.
He said: “I’ve always had a boat, it’s like having a pair of shoes. My father-in-law taught me a lesson early on: ‘You can’t keep fishing for today, you’ve got to leave something for tomorrow.’ Those words really mean a lot to me. We need to be looking after what we’ve got, because there ain’t a lot left.
“We want to put something back now. We want to show that we can catch fish and that there’s fish to be had – but we’ve got to give the edge, give the percentage back to the fish, not us have the percentage on the fish.
“We’ve managed to stop the pair-trawlers, and the fish life coming back inshore now is incredible, and it didn’t take long. We’ve never seen so many pods of dolphins as this year – it’s part of what’s out there, and everyone should be entitled to see that.”
The Blue Marine Foundation says that along with three other local fishermen, Dicky Leggett, Mick Steer and Terry Homer, Clive has helped revitalise the Bognor Fishermen’s Association (BFA). Supported by the mayor of Bognor Regis, the BFA has already transformed a derelict shed on the beach into a fish stall that sells its catch to the local community.
Mayor Steve Goodheart said: “All along the south coast there are fishing communities who are doing the same type of work, and as residents we should be supporting every effort to improve the state of our coastal waters.”
The charity says that future plans of the BFA include transforming an area of the Bognor Regis promenade into an educational hub ‘to share the history of fishing that was once a core of the coastal Sussex community, sell fish caught by their low-impact day-boats, and champion recovery of the Sussex kelp beds to support a thriving inshore fleet once more’.
Sam Fanshawe, Blue Marine’s UK projects manager, told Fishing News: “Working with and supporting small-scale inshore fishermen such as Clive and the BFA is vital to safeguard our cultural fishing heritage, encourage markets for locally caught fish and show that low-impact fishing can thrive alongside marine protection.”
Bognor Fishing – Back from the Brink can be viewed below…
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.