Sunday, 20 April 2008

Protection fatigue?

I’ve noticed that during periods of fine weather the number of phone calls I get increases dramatically. I guess it’s a normal thing; fine weather gets people thinking about fishing. Not all of the phone calls I get are in relation to business of course and for the past few years as many people re-discover bass fishing many of them are in relation to illegal bass fishing.

During the last weeks of March for example I received 3 calls connected to this subject from different people. These are not what I would term or call ‘I suspect..’ calls; these are confirmed sightings of the regular illegal activity of bass fishing. Boxes of fish been landed, nets been shot, fish been sold, vans coming to collect. People, make these calls to me, whom have consistently witnessed this activity over the same periods for many years in the same places – and this year is no exception it seems, the theme of this year’s calls is no different. The general content of these calls is that the people who have made them have been through the correct channels of the fisheries boards, the gardai, some people have even contacted local politicians and STILL the activity continues unabated. The question these people ask me is generally something like ‘…maybe you might be able to do something Jim…’ I keep hearing the same locations, the same descriptions, the same places, and the same activity, - the same exasperation and frustration is obvious from the tone of one caller to the next.

As an angler I sympathise and listen to the calls that I get, make some notes. I cant really do much either, lets be sensible here. Then I get more calls or people stop me in the street! In few weeks time I will close my small business for four weeks – this is the closed season for bass fishing – May 15th to June 15th. Closing a business for four weeks seems like madness but its one of the factors that I need to work and plan around until I develop an alternative solution. During these four weeks I will see some anglers fishing for bass quite openly – but what is really frustrating is the continued illegal netting pressure that operates during this time, closed or open the activity continues.

This year (2008), since Christmas, I have had 4 requests from potential visiting groups of anglers – two from Italy one from Holland, and one from France – to fish in Wexford during the period of May 15th to June 15th. These people are ALL fly fishers – single hook and have a C+R frame of mind. One of these groups would have had a significant impact on promoting bass fishing in Ireland. I have managed to re-negotiate one of the groups for guiding later during the year, the others I’m afraid will go to fish elsewhere in the world during this time. This is what the business has to deal with and absorb and it’s just an example. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for anything and I am not in any way advocating opening the closed season (god forbid) but maybe you can imagine my normal sense of frustration at turning away the business when its obvious that
  • The economic benefits from a personal point of view are good
  • The impact that the 4 groups would have on the local economy are considerable
  • The positive profile that would continue to be built around the bass fishery in South East Ireland through international editorial would be enhanced
  • Remember its a sustainable practice with little or no environmental impact
  • The promotion of Ireland as a world class angling destination would continue - knock on effects
but where it really hits and the frustration is magnified is knowing that during this time of the closed season, and during the entire bass season that the nets are out there killing hundreds of fish, with no management, no foresight, no sustainability, no planning -destroying another national resource with no consideration to any positive or creative possibilities.
So please keep making the calls, I will do what I can for as long as I can, as anglers I share in your frustration.

As a person trying to promote our country as a world class angling destination, with a sustainable plan with a continued positive impact on local communities maybe now you can share in some of my perspective too.

New Website

The beginning AND the end…

Forwarded to - The Irish Bass Policy Group (David McInerny, John Quinlan, Shane O Reilly, Mike Hennessy, Dr William Roche, Dr Nial O'Ma...