FISHING: The natural balance

editorial image

May I assure AM Johnson that fishermen do share your concerns on the issue of plastics in the marine environment, (News Guardian, September 14). It is a solvable and containable problem, if we act now.

It is a fact that nearly 90 per cent of plastic and other marine pollutants originate from land-based sources, and certainly beyond the control and influence of individual fishermen.

As fishermen, we are involved in many innovative schemes, such as ‘fishing for litter’, where fishermen collect plastics and other marine debris and bring it ashore for disposal, also fishing net recycling schemes.

We have, for a few years now, operated a policy of zero disposal of plastics and waste at sea on our own vessels.

Regarding your analysis of North Sea fish stocks, around 75 per cent are now fished at ‘sustainable levels’, not just cod and haddock. Mackerel, plaice, hake and saithe stocks are at the highest levels ever recorded. The level of some of these stocks is starting to cause concern because of their effect on other, more vulnerable species.

Fishing mortality on stocks has decreased enormously in the last 15 years, which is contributing to generally improving upward trend.

All stocks cannot be at maximum level at all times, depending on varying environmental and climatic factors. Some will always be high and others will be perceived to be at low levels and will fluctuate in response to natural environment and ecosystem change.

There will always be some sort of natural balance in the marine environment.

Dennis Clark