I was rather dismayed while reading the opening paragraph of Alastair Robertson’s article in Weekend Life (9 August), in which he wrongly states: “It was our own fishermen who finished off the North Sea herring and just about floored haddock and cod stocks with very little help from anyone else.”
He is obviously unaware of the geographical significance of countries surrounding the North Sea, which have had at various times access to fish these waters.
I have personally witnessed large “Soviet bloc” fleets in the early 1960s – Russian, East German and Polish – trawling and drifting for herring. This continued up till the UK joined the Common Market.
Throughout this period French, Belgian, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish fishermen also prosecuted the herring fishery until a total ban was implemented in 1977.
Concerning the cod and haddock, all Common Market countries plus Norway that had historical rights to fish the North Sea continued to, and still do fish, allocated quotas for these species.
It is obvious to me (as a retired skipper) that your columnist was wrong in stating that the depletion of North Sea stocks was down to our own fishermen with little help from anyone else; indeed, the part played by UK fishermen is only a percentage of the total catch from the many other countries involved.