This week’s photo was taken at Bothwell, near Cranshaws, on a frosty December morning by Louise Renton from Duns. Please email picture contributions, plus a brief caption, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
POINTING FINGER AT MANKIND
I cannot let Bill Quarry’s dismal article on Tweed salmon management, which appeared in your November 24 issue, pass without comment.
Salmon were wiped out in many rivers by pollution. These local extinctions took off in the 18th century and proceeded apace during the industrial revolution.
The recent collapse of remaining salmon populations such as that in the Tweed is easily explained by industrial fishing at sea (of both salmon and their prey species) and modern methods of industrial farming and forestry.
The enormous volume of silt running off autumn-ploughed riverside fields is a serious problem, as is the abstraction of river water during times of drought, when the river eco-system is already under severe stress. Not only do silt and oxygen depletion kill salmon and their eggs directly, they also devastate the invertebrates upon which the food-chain depends.
Climate change is also having an effect as salmon, along with some of their prey species, can only breed in waters that fall within a very narrow temperature range.
Mr Quarry is clearly obsessed with predators.
He arrives at a figure of 600,000 Tweed salmon eaten every year by 10,000 seals. The number of seals active in a 25-mile quadrant north-east of the Tweed estuary, the area through which the Tweed salmon are likely to migrate, possibly approaches 1,000.
Mr Quarry’s 25-mile radius conveniently includes the Farne Islands’ seal colony which lies to the south of the migration route.
Accepting Mr Quarry’s unsubstantiated claim that 20% of the seals’ five kg-per-day diet is salmon, but factoring in that the salmon run is seasonal – let’s say they are running for 20% of the year – the calculation of 1,000 seals x 1kg x 73 days = 73,000 kg of salmon can be made.
Using Mr Quarry’s implied average weight of six kg, this equates to approximately 12,000 salmon – so his 600,000 adult spawning salmon is reduced to 12,000, but let’s not stop there.
On what basis does he claim all salmon in his 25-mile radius for the Tweed? Most salmon migrating to rivers further south will run the gauntlet of the dreaded seal, through these waters.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that one in six salmon were destined for English rivers. Mr Quarry’s 600,000 have been more than decimated, they have been reduced to a likely maximum of 10,000.
Mr Quarry is at it again with the fish-eating birds.
There are 1,000 of them and they each eat 10 fish a day, he claims.
Actually, it all depends on size. One substantial eel, for example, or a brace of plump grayling, 20 miller’s thumbs maybe and, yes, trout, parr and smoult.
Mr Quarry’s figures tell us each bird accounts for at least eight salmonoids a day – an unsubstantiated claim made in the full knowledge that “salmonoids” includes trout and also grayling, a fish that has in the past been treated as “vermin” by the game-fishing fraternity.
To sum up, mankind – that’s you, dear reader, and me and all the rest of them – will be responsible for the extinction of the Atlantic salmon as a wild animal before the end of this century, not the innocent predators with which it co-evolved over millions of years.
In fact, the pressures of the natural environment and competing species contained within it produced the Atlantic salmon as we know it.
Put simply, without its predators, there would be no salmon.
Who are we to choose which species to eliminate in a vain attempt to save a “game” species, a commercial asset, which is merely one of tens of thousands of species we are driving to extinction as we do our best to destroy the very biosphere upon which our own survival as a species depends?
Eckford Hall Farmhouse
TOO MUCH DOOM AND GLOOM, CALUM
We could all do with some good news and it was abundant last week in the local newspapers.
The announcement from Scotrail that an extra 4,000 seats will be made available on the Borders Railway championed one front page, followed by a statement from Eildon Housing Association that more affordable homes are going to be built in the Borders.
Further good news followed with the completion of Selkirk’s £31.4m flood-protection scheme and a pledge of a further £29.2m for the scheme in Hawick.
However, the icing on the cake had to be the news that Jedforest BV has been granted permission to build a new £40m brewery with the creation of 50 jobs and boosting future tourism.
On a personal note the strong dollar since Brexit has almost trebled the turnover of my small business, allowing us a competitive edge to export to 15 different countries, and we have just signed a distribution agreement with a company in France to handle all our sales in mainland Europe.
What I could really do without is reading Borders MP Calum Kerr’s continual whining about austerity and doom and gloom. Perhaps he should get off his backside and start talking to some real people, rather than cocoon himself in his party politics.
The Borders is a great place to live and offers fabulous opportunities to new and existing businesess. If he has nothing positive to say, I propose he should say nothing at all.
PR DISASTER MAY COST COMPANY
It is a great pity that Perryman’s “ongoing commitment to providing reliable, friendly and quality bus travel” did not extend to the production of the 235/253 bus timetables (the third one this year) to bus shelters etc along the route before the introduction on December 12, 2016.
A customer information notice is not good enough, but then I suppose printing new timetables would take away some of their profit.
A PR disaster that may well cost them customers and money!
NO ONE SHOULD BE ALONE
I write to welcome Age Scotland’s newly-launched campaign, ‘No one should have no one at Christmas’.
With figures outlining that more than 50,000 older Scots will spend Christmas alone, it is welcome news that the Scottish government has also announced a national strategy to tackle loneliness.
Loneliness is an issue all year round and our team of dedicated volunteers ensure more than 1,000 of those aged 75 and over who live alone enjoy social contact at least once a month through our much-loved and treasured free tea parties.
The figures from Age Scotland highlight once again there is much more potential to expand our tea parties in Scotland and this is something we are working very hard to do that.
To make that happen we need to identify and reach out to those living alone, and we would once again like to encourage the public and other agencies to help us find these people.
We also need more volunteers to offer just a little bit of time once a month, or even a couple of times a year, to make a difference and enjoy great company, tea and cake.
I would urge anyone reading this, or anyone who has offered an act of kindness inspired by the Age Scotland campaign and keen to do more throughout 2017 and beyond, to consider donating a little time.
Contact the Elderly
VALIANT EFFORT IN DUNS AREA
The Poppy Appeal collection has now been completed, and the total sum raised comes to £2,956.
This is slightly down on last year’s sum, but nonetheless a very good result, and I would like to thank the shops and businesses in Duns, Chirnside, and surrounding area for their assistance in raising this money.
I would also like to thank the valiant efforts of the door-to-door collectors (sometimes in disgusting weather), the Cadet organisations and the schools for their support given to this year’s effort. Well done, everybody!
Duns Branch RBLS
FAILING OVER DEVOLVED POWERS
My perception of regular contributor to your letters pages, Eric Falconer, is of a man combining the literacy of Sir Walter Scott, and the facts and figures of Einstein.
He is also able to express his views without the rabid aggression usually associated with nationalism.
This combination usually makes for interesting reading, even though I have to admit many of his theories go over my “heid”.
So to his letter published last week in which he highlighted his perceived view of Westminster’s mismanagement of Scottish affairs.
This assumption rather perplexed me as I’m convinced that many years ago, at huge cost, a large ugly building was constructed in Edinburgh to house the devolved Scottish Parliament.
This, I’m sure, still operates today and is led by a wee woman who travels the world, collecting air miles.
Also, I’m led to believe this institution was given the mandate to oversee our taxation, police, National Health Service, education and virtually every other facet of life north of the border.
If the Scottish government is not capable of carrying out this task, which is becoming abundantly clear, I fail to comprehend how Westminster can be at fault. I am awaiting a complex explanation.
Mr G. Holford
MOVING AGAINST THE MONARCHY
The 79 Group (formed in 1979) wanted to set up a Scottish socialist republic.
The removal of the Queen as Scotland’s head of state was one of its founding principles. The group has strong links with Irish republican party Sinn Fein and was invited to the Scottish Assembly.
Alex Salmond was main spokesman for publicity at the time and sought great militancy, including civil disobedience.
In 2014, Kenny MacAskill (then justice minister) suggested there could be a referendum on scrapping the monarchy if Scots voted Yes in the independence referendum.
To this day the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has always avoided, when requested, to deny a republican Scotland.
PUPPIES FOUND ALIVE AND WELL
Our two Cairn Terrier Cross Miniature Poodle puppies went missing from their home in Kelso on the morning of Thursday, December 8 – and after 51 torturing hours were found alive and well.
The support from everyone was overwhelming, with hordes of people searching.
The heart-breaking story of the puppies’ disappearance was ‘shared’ by more than 132,500 people on the Berwick Animal Rescue Kennels Facebook page alone.
Everyone has been so wonderful and we cannot thank them enough, especially Lynn who found the puppies.
Nicky and Michael Taylor
SWIMMING CLUB FUNDS GET BOOST
Eyemouth and District Swimming Club would like to thank everyone who donated at our bag pack at B+M Bargains on Saturday, December 10.
An amazing £493.90 was raised for the club.
Huge thanks also to the staff at B+M for allowing us to hold the bag pack and being so accommodating on the day.
Eyemouth Swimming Club
I would like to wish all helpers and everyone who has supported the orphans in any way a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
If the 10,000 who complained to the BBC about the behaviour of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand had instead written to the police as I did the despicable pair might have finished up in court.
William W. Scott