A FISHERMAN has backed a protest calling for the end to the environmental destruction of our seas.

Leigh fisherman Paul Gilson spoke out after protests were staged in Amsterdam against the European discard ban.

The ban has resulted in fish going to landfill rather than being thrown back into the sea. Fishermen also protested over the growing numbers of windfarms springing up in the North Sea.

Hundreds of fishermen from Holland and Belgium this week protested about the loss of fishing grounds due to the impact of the windfarms and the EU’s discard ban.

Previously, fishermen would weigh their catch at sea and throw back anything over their quotas. Current rules mean catches have to be landed, with any surplus fish being sent to landfill.

Mr Gilson, 64, of Undercliff Gardens, said he agreed with Dutch and Belgian fishermen, saying the windfarms in the Thames Estuary along with dredging operations amount to the “industrialisation of the sea” and are causing extensive environmental damage.

He said: “I think its about time more people realised just how the North Sea, in particular, is being overdeveloped. The Green Party is calling for more sustainable energy but the most expensive are windfarms at sea. They are going too far.

“They are also dredging at sea because they can’t have new quarries on land any more. It’s environmental destruction.”

Mr Gilson said the discard ban amounted to the “lunatics running the asylum”.

He added: “This rule has been creeping in but we never thought they would actually go through with it.

“Someone has got to realise the discard ban is not the way to go. We don’t want to kill fish unnecessarily and that’s what’s taking place. Up to 90 per cent of fish survive being caught.

“If we were able to chuck 100 fish back into the sea that’s got to be better than sending them to landfill.

“It won’t save fish populations.”

A petition has been launched calling for no more wind farms to be located on fishing grounds and spawning grounds, for more research to be conducted into the effects of wind farms on marine life, and for compensation for the industry’s losses.

The protestors also called for the discard ban to be removed from the Common Fisheries Policy in the 2020 review.

Many Southend fisherman backed Brexit in the hope of overturning EU rules which impact on the UK fishing industry.

They were disappointed when Government ministers recently stalled on a bid to grab back authority over British waters any time soon. Now it seems their European counterparts are also at odds with EU rules.