A bid to save Worthing’s fishing industry from total collapse was launched recently, reports John Periam.

Above: Worthing’s beach fishermen, who will benefit from a £95,000 grant from National Heritage Fund. (Photograph courtesy of Worthing Herald). 

A £95,000 grant from the National Heritage Fund will be used to install electricity and water supplies to the fishermen who fish from pitches along the seafront, which will help them to winch the boats up the beach and clean them, along with the day’s catches.

At the same time, a museum and contact centre for schools to learn about the fishing industry is also planned. Northbrook College in Worthing is considering starting a fisherman’s apprenticeship.

Members of Worthing council, along with local MPs, also plan to visit Paul Joy at Hastings to see how their scheme is run. The bid to save the industry campaign was launched by Andy Sparsis, the owner of the Fish Factory restaurant chain, who said: “The projected costs of the plans are £500,000 and we are confident that we can source the rest of the money from the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund and other grants.”

Worthing fisherman Danny Smyth, who has fished off Worthing beach since he was 16 years old, has seen fishermen hang up their nets and is worried that 200 years of fishing heritage could soon disappear.

“The local fish wholesalers have supported us, but that is not enough. Government restrictions on fishing quotas has forced several of the inshore fishermen to go to larger boats, fishing further out to sea. Twenty years ago, there were at least 10 full-time fishermen working off the beach, now there are just a few of us,” he said.

Danny Smyth’s comments were endorsed by other members of the Worthing Fishing Society.

With the new Rampion wind farm being developed off the coast at Worthing, local fishermen hope support for their plans could also come from E.ON, who they also plan to contact.

“Other recent issues have not helped us,” said John Booker. “We have had more net thefts from our storage containers on the beach. It eased off a bit – but seems to have returned. The total value of the last thefts came to over £500. It is not viable to install CCTV so we must rely on members of the public, if they see anything suspicious. The police are also aware of our concerns. I have been fishing for 26 years from this part of the beach, and each year it becomes a lot harder to make a living; hence any constructive ideas to help must be looked at if we are going to survive.”

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