LETTER:Saving small fry

From Mr Roger Holmes

Sir: Legislating on the minimum size of lobster that may be landed may not be bizarre but it is not the only approach to the problem of conservation (letter, 5 February).

Round about the 1870s, Canada's east coast lobster fishery was in serious trouble from overfishing. They, too, found that it was the larger lobsters that were most important for stock regeneration through breeding. The authorities accordingly allowed the fishermen to land as many small lobsters as they liked but ordered them to return those above a certain size to the sea. Within a few years, so I believe, the fish became so plentiful that the price fell to the point where they were being ground up for fish meal!

The Bretons, who were particularly interested in our crayfish, had another approach. Instead of returning under-sized fish to the sea they fattened them on fish meal before selling them on. Indeed, a visitor to Concarneau, circa 1870, found them applying this principle to several other types of fish.

Yours faithfully,

Roger Holmes

Liskeard, Cornwall