LETTER: Regulations spark fears for our fishermen

I am writing to you with my concerns over a new regulation which requires electronic logs in place of the former paper documentation for fishing vessels in Boston.

I find it difficult to understand why this has been introduced. There may have been errors in the paper returns but this new system will, I believe, produce even more. Most of the Boston fishing vessels carry only a skipper and two crew but I understand that this new electronic log has to be kept up-to-date as they go about their business. How can such a small crew do so while they are busy doing their job?

I understand this is coming in for vessels of more than 12 metres and will cost in the region of £2,000 per vessel. The cost of this system and its installation is to be borne by the Government but the skipper will be responsible for its upkeep, and for further insurance. That means that if it breaks down they not only have the cost of repair but inevitably they will have to wait while a mechanic gets to them to fix it. Until it is fixed they can’t put to sea. If it breaks down while they are at sea they have to cease fishing immediately and return to harbour. In both cases they are thus being deprived of earning a living.

With a possible £50,000 fine hanging over their heads fishermen with these boats are being placed in an impossible situation. I cannot begin to understand why they must cease fishing if the unit suddenly fails while they are at sea, when they have already incurred the costs of diesel and crew wages. How can they possibly make ends meet if they then have to come home with an incomplete catch?

Does no-one ever look at such new regulations and apply some common sense?

Derek Clark

UKIP MEP for Lincolnshire