A bid to save Worthing’s fishing industry from the brink of extinction is being launched.
Using a £95,000 grant from the National Heritage Fund, electricity and water supplies will be installed at the fisherman’s pictures along the seafront according to new plans.
A museum and contact centre for schools to learn about the fishing industry is also in the pipeline, and talks are being held with Northbrook College in Worthing to start the UK’s first fisherman’s apprenticeship.
The campaign has been launched by Andy Sparsis, the owner of Fish Factory restaurant in Brighton Road, Worthing.
Mr Sparsis, 41, said that the projected cost of the plans was £500,000, and that he was confident he could source the rest of the money from the European Fisheries Fund and other grants.
He has also invited members of Worthing Borough Council, MPs, businessowners and fishermen on a planned trip to Hastings, where members of the local council will explain how it has made a success of its fishing industry.
It is like that dodo scenario; we are about to lose 200 years of fishing heritage on our doorstepAndy Sparsis
He said: “We are on our last legs. We have two or three full-time fishermen left, and they could be the last because the knowledge is not being passed on. It is like that dodo scenario; we are about to lose 200 years of fishing heritage on our doorstep.”
The water and electricity supplies to the fisherman’s pictures would allow them to wash equipment and haul their boats up the beach more easily.
Danny Smyth, secretary of the Worthing Fishing Society, welcomed the idea.
Mr Smyth, 49, has been a fisherman since he was 16 but now only does it part-time because of the dwindling industry in Worthing.
While he praised markets like Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales in Shoreham Harbour for supporting the industry, Mr Smyth said that government restrictions on fishing quotas had forced local fishermen out of the business or further out to sea in bigger boats to land more catches.
“Twenty years ago, there were at least 10 full-time fishermen off the beach but it’s been so difficult that most of them have got out of it.”
Mr Sparsis said he hoped E.ON would contribute to the project due to the impact of the Rampion wind farm’s construction on the seabed.
But Mr Smyth said that once the project is complete, it could become a nursery for fish and other sealife.
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