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Letters / Facts I learned about fish conservation

Like many nature lovers I have been banging on about conservation for years and still up to now haven’t been educated differently.

Well, here’s a couple of things I’ve learned about fish conservation going door to door canvassing Skerries, Whalsay, Unst, Fetlar and Yell these last two to three weeks.

Firstly cod. I thought dumping all fish was tragic but now I see one rule does not apply to all. Cod is a parasite (not only full of parasites).  It eats everything and anything else in the sea. Like a plague of locusts if they get out of hand, they strip the area of all other fish and leave it desolate.

Dumping cod once the quota has been reached, saves this from happening at least a bit, because the dumped cod feeds the other cod, as they’re cannibals eating their own. This therefore protects the rest of the marine life in that area for a period of time.

If cod is protected to the extent that it becomes a pest of magnitude, it then becomes a virile detriment to the aquaculture environment around our seas. This is what’s happening now, and though the powers that be are increasing the quotas soon, it is not nearly enough.

Secondly herring. I heard herring is protected during spawning season. Good I thought. Makes sense. Well perhaps not. Herring is at least ten per cent heavier in spawning season. That’s when the buyers pay the most for it.

The thing is… the boats can catch the herring up to the spawning season. This means because the herring weigh less, more fish have to be caught to make up their tonnage. Because of this, at least ten per cent more herring never get to spawn.

An example of this. Say 1,000,000 herring made up a boats quota of tonnage during the spawning season, and you had to catch the same tonnage before the spawning season, you would be catching at least 1,100,000 fish to make up the same tonnage.

As you can see people like me have a simplified view, and the people who work in any industry see these facts.

From the care industry to the fishing industry decisions need to be made from the honest observations by the people providing these services at ground level.

Marie Williamson
Independent candidates in the North Isles by-election

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