Letter: Environmental vandalism

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From Mr Mark Smith

Sir: Am I alone in finding the words of Jose Manuel Muiz, president of the Spanish Association of Trawlermen (29 March) utterly hollow? He claims that for him and his cohorts, "Newfoundland is like a second home" and that some of them have "family ties" there. These comments are printed just inches below a column in which David Usborne states that 40,000 of the Newfoundlanders to whom Mr Muiz claims such a filial bond have lost their jobs in the fishing industry in just three years ("Bedevilled in the deep blue sea"). Who would want cousins like that coming to visit?

It is true that Europeans, the Spanish included, have been drawn to the coast of Newfoundland for centuries by the riches that the Grand Banks had to offer. Indeed, some of the earliest European settlements in North America were established by French fishermen overwintering on Newfoundland. But the seas of the Grand Banks, which were once teeming with life, are now almost bereft of fish.

Of course Canada must acknowledge some of the blame for this; Canadians aren't fools, they know what has happened. Now, however, is the time to take action to try to prevent the permanent loss of this important resource and a way of life in Newfoundland. For its part, Canada has had a moratorium on most fishing on the Grand Banks inside its territorial limit for the past three years. For the Spanish trawlermen to then come from across the ocean and contort international rules on fishing in the way they have is environmental vandalism. For Emma Bonino, the EU Fisheries Commissioner, and the European Union to support their actions is a disgrace.





30 March