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Nobody knows the true state of our fisheries

This week the Belfast Telegraph launched a 'state of our seas' feature, which, for the first three days, featured the usual enviro-zealots with the usual critiques.

One statement in particular - 'Is this the end for our cod?' - was unsupported by any evidence.

In the year 2000, there were 44 whitefish boats in the Northern Ireland fleet. In 2012, there are none.

The reason for this is not lack of cod, but lack of quota to enable fishermen to catch this fish.

There is now concern that, due to the absence of a commercial fishery, there is no data on which scientists can make an evaluation of the availability of cod.

We are going to pool our remaining cod quota for 2012 and allow three boats to go to a fishery in August and September with full science observer coverage (for which the industry will pay) to gather the data.

We would invite your environment correspondent to participate in one of these voyages. Hopefully, we will then see a more balanced persective of the position on cod - one part of the state of our seas.

R H JAMES

Chief executive, NI Fish Producers' Organisation

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