Letter: Greed killed our fish stocks

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Sir: As a sea angler of some 50 years' experience, I find it difficult to muster much sympathy for the professional fishermen of this country. The problems they face today are largely of their own making and if they had their way now there would be little future for coming generations.

My club fishes on the east coast and over the last 20 years has seen a spectacular decline in the cod, haddock and ling stock. In spite of hiring the best charter boats with the latest fish-finding electronics and sometimes steaming out some 40 miles, catches of mature fish are becoming increasingly rare. Some three years ago we fished out of Amble and after eight hours' fishing our party had no sizeable fish (National Federation of Sea Anglers rules prohibit the taking of any cod less than 17 inches long). Imagine our dismay when on leaving our boat we watched a commercial boat discharge a stack of fish boxes, the contents of which were 9-10 inch codling. Completely illegal, but who cares, there must be a market somewhere. To deny the scientific evidence on North Sea stocks is typical of people who now lament about quota-hopping when they themselves sold away their fishing rights.

Perhaps, on reflection, I should have some sympathy for these people. After 18 years of Tory government, encouraging "grab what you can today, don't consider others tomorrow", they are no different from a lot of other people.


Thelwall, Cheshire