Cooperation and force in aid of the environment | Letters

Albert Beale says Britain needn’t be in the EU to make environmental progress, Darian McBain says seafood companies are helping to establish regulations, Michael Williams outlines the progress made by fisheries and conservation authorities, and Ursula Holden highlights the Mothers Rise Up climate march

Jonathan Freedland (The secret to stopping Brexit: keep it simple, 11 May) refers to the urgency of climate change and points out, correctly, that this situation “cries out for cooperation with our neighbours”. But his logic is adrift when he links this with his wish for continued British membership of the EU.

Firstly, such cooperation could happen via one of the other Europe-wide bodies of which the UK is a member, or via an intergovernmental group specific to that problem; there is no need for it to happen through the EU specifically or any such top-down supranational body.

Secondly, some of the EU’s core policies, such as economic growth and expanded continent-wide trading, are simply incompatible with what’s needed to stop the destruction of our ecosystem.

There’s nothing inconsistent about supporting more urgent cooperation between neighbouring countries while opposing the principles and the policies of the EU – which is merely one particular political manifestation of such cooperative ideals, and a rather misguided one at that.
Albert Beale
London

• Overfishing and damaging catch methods are the greatest threats to our oceans, and I commend George Monbiot for highlighting the issue (How to halt the greatest threat to the oceans? Stop eating fish, 9 May). But I disagree with his solutions.

Up to 26m tonnes of fish caught annually are estimated to be illegal, unreported or unregulated. Bringing fisheries under sustainable management is essential to prevent the collapse of marine ecosystems. Governments have struggled to manage this global problem, but visit fisheryprogress.org and you will see how global fishing firms have worked with NGOs, regional authorities and vessel owners to establish regulations. Seafood companies have the resources to get everyone around the table to spur improvements. With their purchasing power, they can drive compliance with regulations. These rules not only support the recovery of overfished species, but also, as Monbiot notes, will ensure we have a healthy supply of seafood for generations to come.
Darian McBain
Global director of corporate affairs and sustainability, Thai Union

• George Monbiot asserts that “even inshore fisheries are disastrously managed, through a combination of lax rules and a catastrophic failure to enforce them”. Inshore fisheries (0-6 nautical miles) are managed by 10 Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authorities (Ifcas). Devon & Severn Ifca has an enforcement team and vessels fitted with forward-looking infrared cameras for distant observation. It has pioneered an inshore vessel monitoring system, mandatory for trawlers and scallop dredgers in our district.

Between 2016 and 2018, Devon & Severn Ifca investigated 96 enforcement cases, and issued 28 warnings, three cautions and 25 penalties totalling £20,000. Fourteen cases were prosecuted, eight of which received fines of over £93,000. It has pioneered a system of permitting bylaws, allowing the management of trawling, netting, potting and diving for shellfish through 253 new measures.

The work done by Dorset & Severn Ifca shows that disastrous management and catastrophic failure of enforcement is not endemic.
Prof Michael Williams
Deputy chair, Devon & Severn Ifca

• I was disappointed to see no coverage of the Mothers Rise Up climate march held in London on Sunday. It did not have any headline-grabbing civil disobedience or arrests, nor a well-known figurehead. But thousands of families came out in great numbers from across the UK, many with young children in tow, and marched, closing central London streets from Hyde Park to Parliament Square for a number of hours. There was a diverse range of speakers touching on pollution, worldwide women’s leadership in environmental movements and the shared weight of responsibility we hold. Please do not disregard the quiet power of women organising, as we may well be the key to sorting this mess out.
Ursula Holden
Lewes, East Sussex

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