AT Prime Minster’s Questions, in the House of Commons on January 10, Anna Firth, MP for Southend West, brought the Prime Minster’s, attention to the possibility of a new dynamic Clam Fishery that is evolving in the Thames.
She also asked if he, Rishi Sunak, would visit Southend West, and Leigh in particular, to find out more for himself.
On the January 15 of Mr Sunak and the Home Secretary James Cleverly arrived in Leigh old town. The pair met residents, local business men and women, local school children and local councillors.
During a sit down meeting Mr Sunak explained the importance of ‘stopping the boats’ and the now passed Rwanda plans. He also took questions from the floor and Coun Paul Gilson took the opportunity to speak and ask a question on fisheries.
Highlighting low moral in the fishing industry Coun made the case for support and strong leadership from the government, adding: “The moral in my industry is at an all time low. We need to lift that moral. We need some leadership at local level and national level.
“We have opportunities all the way around the country between 6 and 12 miles. All our foreign friends want to be in that 6 and 12 miles but we’ve got nobody to lead and make the best use of those opportunities.
“I would like to see you, through your ministry, get some people in as leaders.”
highlighting the industry’s potential Coun Gilson asked for: “Good management for a long term future:” adding: “We need people in there that understand the industry and that can make the most of it.”
Mr Sunak later took time to walk through the old town to visit Osbourn’s cooking factory and spoke with Angus brown, who operates sea trips from Leigh.
Coun Gilson explained to the Leigh On Sea News that: “Fisheries within the Thames are seeing great changes.
“Dover Sole, once our stable fin fish, have all but disappeared and our local cockle fleet are restricted to very limited fishing opportunities.
“Andrew Lawrence, Graham Osbourn and myself had the opportunity to sit with the PM and Home Secretary to discuss the Thames and local issues over a cup of tea and a plate of local cockles.
“However, there is good news that Anna Firth and the wider fishing industry can see, It is clams.
“There are two types, Manila and Razor clams, both appear to have come from North America within the last 50 years and they have flourished. The beds are now vast and we showed the PM and HS the potential new fishing beds on local charts.
“We explained that we need a new type of management, one that is there to develop and work with the industry. We have an opportunity to grow something from the ground up.
“A similar fishery has been in operation for just over ten years in Holland, they have developed a new dredge that is so environmentally friendly, it has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council Certification.
“It obtained the highest number of points ever awarded. We can use that template to deliver ours. We can make this a sustainable fishery that will benefit Leigh, West Mersea and Whitstable. It’s a golden opportunity not to be wasted.
“The Prime Minster, I believe, was impressed and he said he would get his ministers and ministries to work with us.
“What more can we do to promote Leigh, than have the Prime Minster visit and engage with us.”
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