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Sunday, 20 July 2014

In the interests of fishing for the future

The past few days have seen fairly heated exchange of tweets between fishermen and Sunday Times environmental writer Charles Clover - of End of the Line fame when he appeared to take credit for saving the North Sea fish stocks...

which unsurprisingly brought on a strong reaction from some...

especially when he made it personal and attacked their spelling - and blocked them (and @ThroughtheGaps  - I made the mistake of tweeting very quickly without checking my SPG!) ...

It also didn't help when he ungraciously referred to us as 'you lot'.

It is like this Charles. Nobody denied you the right to write a book or take a stance on the subject of over-fishing and enjoy the kudos awarded it by some - and the film made on the back of it - fair comment based on facts is all we ask. Today, two thirds of fish consumed is caught by fishermen. The population of the world depends on these fishermen to provide a sizeable proportion of its diet.  In doing so, fishermen take part in the most dangerous of occupations - simply to put food in people's mouths. Many are from fishing families going back generations in communities that have been around for hundreds sometimes thousands of years. The work is not a job but a way of life - as a fisherman you eat, sleep and breathe fishing as so much of it is out of your control - it used to be just the weather, where to fish and keeping the gear in one piece - today it seems the world is united against the industry as environmental groups and charities funded by millions of dollars wage a war against them as if every fisherman is out to deprive the oceans of fish. Luckily, we are not likely to see the deaths of 120 fishermen again like we did between 1994 and 1998 when the fleet was considerably larger than it is today.

Which is why Charles, these guys became incensed at your words and your attitude. You do not face the kind of challenges to your being simply to earn a wage, feed your family and run the very business that provides your wages. They are passionate and react strongly because theirs is a hard, unforgiving world - and many in recent years have made huge sacrifices to ensure that fish stocks are healthy through technical measures and other means. Nobody will argue that there was over fishing in the past but please don't assume that things are the same today and talk to these guys as if it were.

More importantly fr the industry we need to heed the warnings over the involvement of Pew and their likes in funding European NGOs and take a look at where this is potentially leading industry - even Prince Charles it appears has been duped by EDF.

Fishing in European waters is a massively complex industry - if it wasn't most of the issues plaguing its management would have been sorted many years ago.

It will only be put in better shape so long as people continue to talk.

(ps - the End of the Line web site needs some repairs making to it )