The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)
Scottish fishing grounds plundered by EU
Sir, - Bob Harper (June 7) appears to be confused. The ban on Danish factory fishing for sandeels around the UK coast was primarily to protect sea birds, not the livelihoods of people engaged in the inshore fishing industry.
At the time the ban was introduced, the EU had allowed Denmark to catch up to one million tonnes annually.
There was also the matter of mesh size on the nets, since being small enough to snare sandeels meant that the Danish boats hoovered up all sorts of fish; and not only the Danes were active, Spanish industrial trawlers were also active in UK waters, their catches reportedly going for the production of fertiliser.
The villain was the EU quota system that was set far too high without recognition of any reasonable conservation policy.
In contrast, during the Cod War in 1975-76, Iceland unilaterally set a 200-mile inshore fishing limit, reluctantly recognised by the UK and Europe against Iceland’s threat to withdraw NATO co-operation if European countries continued to plunder its fish stocks.
Mr Harper’s attempts at justification for the East Neuk fisheries debacle by suggesting that financial compensation for the sale of licences was sufficient recompense is to ignore the supply chain that supported the local fishing industry.
There was no compensations for them.
He also suggests it is puerile to compare the situation today to the golden years of the Scottish herring industry in the 1920s and 1930s.
We don’t need to look so far back nor focus only on the herring.
The fact is, there is not a single piece of white fish now landed in the East Neuk and one wonders what the effect might have been had the UK Government been able to follow the Icelandic example without having its hands tied by the great EU bureaucracy, which is now 300% larger than it was in 1975, thanks to the numbers of countries joining the EU and having equal voting rights to those of the UK on all matters of territorial integrity.
It is difficult to reconcile Mr Harper’s position on the benefit of European federalism policed by Brussels and Strasbourg with his equally strong assertions of the benefits of a totally independent Scotland, governed from Holyrood, and apparently not requiring any union basis for anything at all.
Derek Farmer. Knightsward Farm, Anstruther.