Letter: Fishy business on the east coast

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The Independent Online
Sir: Traditional fishermen, as might be expected, take a rather different view from the Salmon and Trout Association (Letters, 31 August) regarding the Government's invitation to the National Rivers Authority to phase out the North-east drift-net fishery.

The Government's own review of the east coast drift-net fishery provided no evidence that this traditional small-scale fishery offered any kind of a threat to salmon stocks. The minister's craven decision to seek to phase out the drift-net fishery lies entirely with the influence of the angling lobby in the higher reaches of society, not least in the upper echelons of the governing party. This is not a conservation issue. It is about increasing the rentals of the salmon fisheries on the Scottish estates, at the expense of the livelihoods of commercial fishermen.

The NRA proposes to phase out the fishery by natural wastage 'in order to minimise hardship on existing fishermen'. Disregarding the knock-on effect this transference of effort will have on other coastal fisheries, and the inevitable upsurge of poaching that will ensue, it remains the fact that what is being proposed is the callous closure of a 200-year-old fishery, the destruction of jobs in a high unemployment area, not on any justifiable conservation grounds, but to benefit leisure anglers and the sporting estates. Your readers may wish to ponder the respective moralities involved.

Yours faithfully,


Chief Executive

National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations


2 September