Letter: Vanishing fish

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As the debate on fish stocks heats up ("Massive cuts in fishing quotas", 16 December), and commercial fishing interests become further entrenched in their opposition to any reduction in catches, the UK's 1.2 million sea anglers hope that the massive cuts being proposed by the European Commission will be implemented.

All fish stocks are in serious decline and the recreational sea angling industry is suffering enormously. Thousands of jobs are threatened, from tackle retailers to charter boat operators.

Continual over-fishing has to stop and a period of "restoration" needs to be followed by "sustainable harvesting" of the stocks. The longer the recommendations by scientists are ignored, the worse the situation becomes and the longer it will take to restore the fish.

The socio-economic value of recreational sea angling is not appreciated in Europe, but in the USA studies show that for some species the economic impact of recreational angling is higher than conventional commercial exploitation.

Commercial fishing is a smaller industry than the constant media attention suggests. Of the pounds 237m value of commercial fish landings in England and Wales (1997), only a little over pounds 100m was of those species which are of direct interest to anglers, but the direct spend of recreational sea anglers exceeds pounds 1bn and for a great many species the potential for growth, if stocks can be restored, is considerable.

MALCOLM GILBERT

Fisheries Representative

National Federation of Sea Anglers

Lelant Downs, Cornwall

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