Letters to the editor – 18.11.21

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War memorial

I write following Norman Martin’s letter in The Oban Times.

At a conference on Lewis some years ago, one speaker said that rules were rigidly applied in the First World War and that a merchant seaman had to be killed directly by enemy action to be classed as a war casualty, so people who died of exposure in lifeboats etc were not counted by the CWGC as a war casualty at that time.

Many resented this because of the high proportion of merchant seamen from the Western Isles who died in the First World War and explains the War Memorial on Barra being relatively recent, as well as some others.
I remembered this morning ([November 11] the crew of the SS Belgian Prince murdered after surrendering to a U-Boat off the North coast of Ireland. As far as I can see, only one has a marked grave, Chief Officer Neil McDougall Morton who is buried at Kilbrandon.

‘In sacred and loving memory of Neil McDougall Morton of Sunderland, Aged 27 years, Chief Officer of Belgian Prince, torpedoed and cruelly murdered by the Huns on 31 July 1917. (Body washed ashore at Cuan Ferry on September 23). He gave his life that we might not starve. Erected by his Mother.
Martin Briscoe, Fort William

Blame game

I don’t know if David Gunn is an angler (Letters, October 28) but anglers certainly blame salmon farming for any declines in wild salmon and sea trout stocks on the west coast.

The most contentious farm was located in Loch Ewe in Wester Ross which was blamed for the collapse of the world-renowned sea trout fishery in Loch Maree, part of the Ewe Fishery System, in 1988. What is interesting, but never discussed, is that catches of salmon from the Ewe System actually increased in the same period.

Although Mr Gunn states that virtually the whole of the west coast wild salmon population is characterised as conservation status Grade Two and Three, he fails to mention that 10 rivers within the Aquaculture Zone (AZ) are grade one and fully exploitable. If local rules allow, anglers can catch and kill fish from both grade one and two rivers.

Rivers in the AZ account for approximately 28 per cent of all grade one rivers in Scotland, even though catches from the area have rarely exceeded 10 per cent of the total Scottish catch.

Despite having the most contentious salmon farm in Scotland on its door, the River Ewe is a grade one river.

Mr Gunn describes west coast salmon and sea trout as suffering a catastrophic decline, yet last year, a year when movement was restricted due to Covid, anglers still managed to kill 154 and 186 sea trout from rivers in the AZ for sport.

What Mr Gunn fails to mention is that since records began in 1952, anglers have killed around 5.9 million wild fish, all of which were ready to breed adults returning to their rivers to produce the next generations. Instead they were prevented from reproducing in the name of sport and anglers now wonder why there are so few fish left!
Dr Martin Jaffa, Callander McDowell.

Brexit disaster

Amid the flurry of facts and figures relating to the Budget, what has maybe not received the attention it deserves is the frightening impact of Brexit on the economy. According to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, the impact of Brexit will be worse in the long run compared to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been estimated that leaving the EU will reduce the UK’s potential economic output by about four per cent in the long term, with forecasts indicating the pandemic will reduce output by a further two per cent.

It appears that, as many of us warned, far from being a ‘dividend’ as we were promised, Brexit is proving to be an unmitigated disaster.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

Voter ID

If the government are so keen on spending an extra £20 million per election in order to implement ID at polling station, they must allow for as many forms of voter ID as possible. It seems unfair that certain forms of voter ID will not be accepted as valid in order to vote, for example young persons railcards, when older persons railcards will.

I’m glad they’re planning to extend the list to include veterans ID cards, but why can’t university ID cards also be accepted? It’s almost as if the government has worked out which ID its supporters possess and based their policy on that.
As the Electoral Reform Society has pointed out, there is a significant risk that millions of voters will simply give up on trying to take part. Perhaps that’s the intention?
Allan MacKenzie, Brae of Kinkell.

Remember veterans

As we paused to remember the fallen this Remembrance Day, our thoughts naturally turned to the veterans of the Second World War. This stoic and humble generation made the ultimate sacrifice and have been an inspiration for the countless servicemen and women who have followed after them. We must also remember those who answered their country’s call to serve more recently in campaigns in the Middle East, and Europe.

Events in Afghanistan this year reminded us all, not least those who had served there and their families, that for those who do their duty, duty does not end when they arrive home. For many, the physical and mental impact of their service remains with them for the rest of their lives.

Our mission at the fund is to find all those who did their duty, however long ago, and ensure they know we are here for them, as long as they need us. In celebration of their service, we are calling on members of the public to share their loved ones’ stories as part of our Month to Remember. Go to lovedonesmissed.memorypage.org/dedication to pay tribute to your family members.
Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, RAF Benevolent Fund