AS in many things this country is divided. Another schism is developing between, on the one hand, the gardeners and farmers who encourage meadows rich in flowers surrounded by trees and hedgerows and their marine equivalents who encourage kelp and sea-grass, and on the other hand the traditional fishing community.

Kelp is being restored in the south coast of England with the formation of trawler-free zones. The sea bed is healing itself. In Scotland, seagrass which absorbs large amounts of carbon is being replanted and off Arran a protected area is flourishing. In North Berwick lobsters are bred. In many parts, farming of oysters and mussels is cleaning the water. All of this recreates nurseries for young fish.

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This is in distinction from the salmon farms which are despoilers of the environment – that is where any is left by the trawlers.These rakers of the sea bed are one of the last hunter/gatherer communities left in Scotland. When the trawler limit was removed the boats came into the sea lochs, shining their floodlights on the rocks thus frightening the fish into the centre where they could be caught, and the sea-bed destroyed. In the lochs salmon farms now take the place of the codling, saithe and mackerel.

Fortunately whaling has been banned. Harpooning basking sharks has stopped. The herring has been fished out. The worst aspect of the whole matter is that a large part of the remaining sea harvest is being sent abroad for profit when Scotland owing to its climate needs to eat as much seafood as possible.

There is support for extension of the protected areas extending to the equivalent of 12 miles of shore. This is the minimum. We must protect and reap the benefit.

Iain WD Forde

I SUBMIT this as an ex marine cop, or more formally a Scottish Sea Fisheries Officer, a role in which I spent 36 years. I was very interested in the fisheries survey that was reported on in Monday’s National. The proposals as stated are draconian and I am not sure how they take into account the real interests of some smaller but vital fishing ports in more remote areas. There will be howls and screams from the fishing associations, and these should be considered but not become the driving force.

My suggestion would be a total ban on any form of dragnet fishing within the three-mile limit, reserving it to the creel and line fishers, and the total closure of some nursery areas. I would further ban trawling and dredging within the 12-mile limit, reserving it to fly dragging or seining – in my view a less destructive form of fishing than trawling. The size and power of boats could also be looked at.

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Such regulation could well have an appreciable effect on the cost of a fish supper or fininan haddie which would not make the government popular. None of this is easy and would involve pain to the industry and to consumers. Another cost factor would be increased policing costs. The current Fishery Protection Fleet is geared to offshore regulation.

Control of access to the Scottish Economic Zone is of course something of a minefield if we rejoin the EU. The Common Fisheries Policy was hastily cobbled up to get a grip on our fishery. I am unsure what the effect would be were we to join EFTA instead. What is clear is that Scotland controls close to 25% of Europe’s Atlantic and North Sea fishing waters and it is a vital national asset which we must protect.

Captain R Mill Irving
Gifford, East Lothian

IN REPLY to my long letter of September 10, Andrew Orr does not seem to know about the various studies done on male pattern criminality across the globe, but how kind and patronising of him to tell women everywhere that they have had no problems with self-ID and should expect none in Scotland, despite the recent cases that would suggest otherwise.

The bit about the Unionist UK media must have been meant as a joke in this context. Many countries have similar problems to Scotland vis-a-vis being part of a union with a much larger partner who does not always take the smaller partner’s perspective into account. But, hey! It will all pan out well in the end. Or will it? Blind faith and delusion?

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This was followed up by a second joke about the American and Canadian billionaires behind the ideology who want access to the NHS via the BMA. Send in the foot soldiers first to soften up the enemy, then strike. Well-established military tactics. I should have expected him, as a male, to know that, since we are indulging in stereotypes.

Andrew Orr: may I recommend that you actually do a little homework first before you put finger to keyboard? It avoids being made to look like a prat because you have not done the basic research. If he likes, I can offer him a number of pointers, but I refuse categorically to do his homework for him. Hint: start from an empirical perspective. Wings over research, Andrew.

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