Good on you Ireland (and a French cracker)

With all the endless doom and gloom in the news these days, it's great to be able to shout about something really good. Do you remember a while back all the concern there was about the possibility of the commercial fishing sector in Ireland being allowed to commercially fish for bass again within the waters of the Celtic Sea (see here if you don't) ? Well there is some really good news - Simon Coveney, the Irish minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has refused this request. He has confirmed that he is "not proposing changes at this time to the current arrangements in relation to bass fishing", and that to me is some truly outstanding news. Nice one Ireland. Does this mean that the powers that be in this wonderful country are properly on the way to understanding the current and potentially serious economic benefit that can arise from having a healthy sport fishery for bass ? I guess that here in the UK we can essentially dream on...........

To quote John Quinlan from Irish Bass : "On behalf of Irish Bass I would like to congratulate all of you who helped make this happen. I met Simon Coveney myself about this issue and he confirmed the same to me. Letters and emails really make a difference and show the Department of Fisheries and the Ministers involved that bass anglers, who have looked after our stock so well for over 20 years, can not be walked over and taken for granted. To put this achievement into perspective, there has never been a case in the EU where a Fisheries Minister rejected a proposal made by commercial fishermen where they were backed by scientific advice(Marine Institute bass report 2009). Our achievement is all the greater given that two of the previous ministers had publicly stated that they were in favour of commercial fishing for bass. Well done to you all and remember that lobbying works. By the way Irish Bass is currently involved in the new IFI forum (Inland Fisheries Ireland public board), The Bass Policy Group (to form new policy on bass management) and the Tourism Strategy Group (develop bass angling tourism). We are still working on behalf of all bass anglers and will continue to do so. Keep up the good work and lets "look after our bass"".

In case you did not know about the current regulations as regards bass fishing over in Ireland, then read this quote here from the Irish Times : "The Friends of the Irish Environment has welcomed a decision by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney to turn down a request to permit commercial catching of sea bass in the Celtic Sea. Sea bass have been protected since 1990, but only permanently since 2006.There is a complete ban on commercial exploitation and anglers are only permitted to keep two fish of more than 40cm in length in any 24-hour period. A number of sea angling associations have opposed a proposal by the Federation of Irish Fishermen (commercial fishing organisation) to permit commercial catching of the species in the Celtic Sea area. They must be over 40 cm and cannot be sold."

Now I know that people like John Quinlan would be mightily embarrassed that attention might be given to them, but in situations like this stuff does not just happen. Anglers have a bad habit (and sea anglers especially) of burying their heads in the sand and hoping that all the potentially bad stuff goes away. But not somebody like John Quinlan and the numerous other people and organisations who got involved early on with this and without a doubt made a huge difference. As John said above, "to put this achievement into perspective, there has never been a case in the EU where a Fisheries Minister rejected a proposal made by commercial fishermen where they were backed by scientific advice(Marine Institute bass report 2009). Our achievement is all the greater given that two of the previous ministers had publicly stated that they were in favour of commercial fishing for bass." Do you realise how significant this all is ? I have said it before and I will say it again - there is no other place that I am aware of in Europe that offers such good shore fishing for bass as Ireland does. Why do you think I go there so much ? The fact that their bass continue to be afforded a level of protection that we here in the UK can only dream about is really quite something, and I applaud them for it.

Photo courtesy Simon Lewis

Some more good news - check out that magnificent bass above. Earlier this year Simon Lewis moved over to France with his family for work reasons. Now Simon knows his bass fishing from living in Wales, but in essence he had to go back to the drawing board and start all over again with regards to finding new marks to fish on his now local French coastline. People who do this have my utmost respect. In Simon's words : "I caught her on the Côtes-d'Armor in Brittany. It was an overcast, grey morning, with a slight southerly breeze. I hooked her in a deepish area of crystal clear water, in a fast run of current. The lure was a soft plastic - a Savagear Sandeel - one of the cheaper lures in my box, but it was the right lure at that moment. She gave a very account of herself, & it was a bit of a tense moment trying to land her . . . but I got her out in the end. She swam away strongly". This magnificent bass measured 77cm, and in anybody's book that is over the magical 10lb mark. Nice one Simon. Vive la France !! I love hearing about catches like this, and thanks Simon for letting me post the details and photo here on my blog.