Demise of Western Isles’ fishing industry

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Brian Wilson (Perspective, 31 July) fails to mention that the virtual extinction of the Western Isles fishing industry is totally due to lack of Westminster government investment in the industry and the surrender of our fishing grounds to the EU trawler fleets by successive Labour and Tory governments.

During the week that Neil Kinnock, as Labour leader, was visiting Lewis, foreign trawlers were counted fishing off the Western Isles.

Twelve of them were Spanish, seven were Dutch, seven were Norwegian, five were French and two were Danish vessels.

In 1948 there were more than 900 fishing boats registered in the Western Isles. Today the fleet has been reduced to a few boats catching prawns and lobsters. After the Second World War Stornoway Town Council attempted on a number of occasions to ban large steam trawlers from fishing in the Minch.

However, it was thwarted by the Westminster government at the behest of the politically influential English trawler owners. Since 1880 the population of the Western Isles has virtually halved from 50,000 to around 27,000.

During the same period the population of Iceland has increased fourfold.

Unlike the Western Isles, the Icelanders did not suffer heavy losses in two world wars and they have a government that has always developed and protected their fishing industry.

In my youth the sounds of Buchan Doric and Gaelic were heard together on 
quays and in the lofts of fishing ports around the coast of Britain. Sadly never again.

Donald J MacLeod

Bridge of Don, Aberdeen

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