IoS letters, emails & online postings (15 February 2009)

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We have a history of trawling that goes back to the 14th century, and the fishing industry has been accused of serial rape and pillage ever since ("Save our seas", 8 February). And still Britain's coastal waters are among "the richest and most diverse in the world", as Geoffrey Lean says, and produce large quantities of fish.

The fishing industry is far from perfect, but anyone in the seafood industry would have told Mr Lean about its initiatives, such as voluntary area closures, new gear technologies and limits on fishing, along with very substantial decommissioning of boats, have all significantly reduced the impact of trawling on the marine environment.

No-take zones and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) must be part of a wider mix of measures to protect the marine environment, but we must balance the need to conserve with the need to produce.

The Marine Bill has provisions for all sorts of levels of environmental protection, but slavishly demanding too many MPAs could cripple not just the fishing industry, but also shipping, renewable energy and undersea communications technologies.

Phil MacMullen


Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Student political activism is alive and kicking, and is to be encouraged, but I do not believe that the sit-ins relating to the Gaza crisis have been the student movement's finest hour ("Students are revolting", 8 February).

Students have every right to campaign actively and vocally on the situation in the Middle East, as well as wider political issues of the day, but all students also have the right to study in an environment that is free from disruption, intimidation or harassment. Where students are occupying teaching and learning spaces on campuses, they are causing significant disruption to the education of their peers. Not only is this unacceptable, but it also undermines broader student support for the issues the protesters are seeking to highlight, and they should reconsider their tactics.

I remain alarmed by reports of anti-Semitism on too many of our campuses. While criticism of Israel is acceptable and many of the protesters have campaigned peacefully, there can be no justification for the kinds of incidents that have been recorded on our campuses and in our communities. It is the responsibility of us all to challenge this kind of racism head on.

Wes Streeting

President, National Union of Students

London NW1

How fantastic to see an article on Morris dancing by someone who knows what they're talking about ("Dare to dance the Morris, the laugh of the century", 8 February). Too often has its death been wrongly reported. As a woman, my regular side only allow me to mind the bags and tempt young men to the way of life, but there's an all-ladies side I want to join when I go off to university.


posted online

I was surprised by Richard Bean writing "Anarchists, led by Rudolph Rocker... introduced Britain to its first Tube bombing. In a precursor to 7/7, a bomb went off at Aldersgate (the Barbican) in 1897, killing one and injuring many" ("England, my England" The New Review, 8 February).

At the time this bombing was assumed by the police to be by anarchists, but there was never any evidence and anarchist groups denied any involvement. Rocker, who, as an anarcho-syndicalist, advocated collective action in the workplace, was against "propaganda by deed" and would have had nothing to do with it.

Assumptions made at the time were based on xenophobia. It is ironic that Mr Bean has repeated them in a play about race.

Steve Turner

Preston, Lancashire

How can we expect young people to improve their communication and behavioural standards faced with loutish examples like Jeremy Clarkson and Jonathan Ross? Let these overpaid goons go, taking their bad manners with them.

Terry Schooling

Chatteris, Cambridgeshire

The vast majority of teachers at fee-paying schools have no "teaching qualifications" (UK schools have 20,000 unqualified teachers", 8 February). Perhaps state schools are adopting a similar protocol?

Anna Farlow

London NW2

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