LETTER: Not all Spaniards go fishing

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The Independent Online
THE so-called "fishing war" between Canada and Spain has led to a resurgence of long-buried myths and clichs ("Spaniards are hooked by a deep and ancient passion", 2 April). Elizabeth Nash writes: "The most potent symbol of Spain, one that strikes closer to the Iberian heart than the matador and arouses deeper emotions than a flamenco guitar, is - or should be - the refrigerated fish lorry".

Flamenco is only one of the many regional musical manifestations in Spain and evokes only indifference in me - and innumerable other non-Andalucians. Bullfighting arouses sentiments of revulsion and shame reminiscent of those experienced by Britons appalled by fox-hunting.

I am convinced that the Spanish boat seized by Canadian navy vessels off the coast of Newfoundland was using illegal nets. The behaviour of the crew of the Estai was despicable and should not go unpunished.

However, this was an isolated incident and not the epitome of Spanish fishermen's contempt for the environment and international maritime law. Am I to assume that, just because a few English football fans indulge in bashing their adversaries' heads, all English football supporters are thugs?

Canada's action was unjustifiable. Fishing disputes should be settled in courts of justice, not in the high seas. Fish stocks are being depleted, which poses a tremendous environmental risk. Many Spanish fishermen are aware of this and share the need to redirect their skills towards alternative economic sectors. This process will be slow and painful - as traumatic as the closure of the coal industry in Britain - and will only be successful with the financial support provided by EU structural funds.

Dr Francisco Rodriguez-Manas

London E9