Sir; Charles Clover’s Saturday Essay about overfishing (July 24, p24) was not only sensational - it was factually incorrect. His statement “you would never catch a wild fishermen talking about sustainability” is nonsense.
The UK fishing industry is not only talking about sustainability but doing a great deal of positive work in this area. Fishermen are working with scientists, government, and non-governmental organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund and statutory bodies including Scottish Natural Heritage and English Nature to help deliver a sustainable future for our seas
The industry is involved in selective gear, management strategies and quality initiatives in the Clyde and selective haddock trawls to reduce bycatch. Fisheries management is being discussed by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation and the WWF in south west England and by the North Sea Regional Advisory Council, which has brought together fishermen, fish processors, scientists and environmentalists from Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark to determine future fishing policies.
And don’t forget the decommissioning of vessels, increased mesh size and the restriction of days allowed for fishing in the North Sea.
These are just a few examples of how UK fishermen are practically conserving the seas.
Clover’s comment about North Sea herring, “a large percentage is currently illegally caught”, is another fallacy. Due to careful fisheries management, herring is now abundant in the North Sea.
Why would anyone need to catch it illegally? Alex West, chairman of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, recently requested for stability in the next round of total allowable catch for herring. This request was due to the fishermen’s desire to preserve stocks.