Sean Connick is the brand new Minister for Fisheries over in Ireland, and what is so worrying is that he has already stated quite clearly that his sympathies clearly lie with the commercial fishing sector. Please take a moment to look at some of his views right here - as you can imagine, this is worrying times for the recreational bass fishery in Ireland, and even if you don't personally go bass fishing in Ireland yourself, I would hazard a guess that the thought of heading over there has been on your radar.
Go to Irish Bass.org for starters and check out what is going on - if you sign up to become a friend of Irish bass then you will start receiving their newsletters. One thing that really struck me at that B.A.S.S. AGM the other day was how many of their members regularly go bass fishing in Ireland - I go a lot, mates of mine go a lot, I hear of lots of people going (without doubt more and more each year), but it was great to be in a room with so many bass junkies who all agree that Ireland is the bass fishing mecca. I hugely admire B.A.S.S. for helping out with this campaign. We must do what we can to safeguard such a fantastic fishery.
John Quinlan from Irish Bass.org is asking that we do this for the moment :
"I know it takes a little time and effort but it is absolutely vital that anglers and related businesses take the time to write a letter to him straight away focusing on the following points:
How much they spend on their bass fishing trips in Ireland and how much it benefits people in remote coastal communities. Keeping sea bass as a recreational resource is the right thing to do as commercial fishermen have already proved they cannot sustainably manage this species. They already have access to dozens of other species and if they cannot make a living from those bass will not solve their problems. Bass angling is an €8 million industry in Ireland which directly and indirectly employs hundreds of people and those jobs must be protected. Make the minister aware that you could easily take your money elsewhere if you feel the Irish bass stocks are not being protected and any change in the current legislation would encourage you to fish elsewhere. It is also a good idea to email him as well".
Minister Sean Connick
John Quinlan also makes a very valid point at the bottom of the latest newsletter :
"We cannot complain about illegal commercial fishing if we do not abide by the (Irish) bass laws ourselves. Don't keep any more than 2 bass in any 24 hours and never keep bass smaller than 40cms. Most fish under this size have not even spawned once. It is vital to our future stock that all bass are given the chance to spawn at least once." Food for thought as John says.
Ireland truly does have the most wonderful inshore bass fishery - nowhere fires all the time, but when it is on song the fishing can be at a level at which I never dreamed about seeing in northern Europe before I started bass fishing over there (principally thanks to my mate Graham Hill, he does not know how much I am in his debt for originally asking me to come and check out the south east). I have never seen anything like this veritable explosion in light tackle bass fishing interest going on in UK and Irish saltwater fishing circles, and if managed correctly and properly then Ireland really does stand a chance of becoming THE bass angling destination that every single bass angler is going to want to go to. But to shine like a jewel the country needs to continue to have lots of bass of all sizes to attract overseas anglers to journey over and spend collectively more and more money that ploughs back into their economy. But bad news travels very fast these days - if the Irish bass stocks are not protected and managed, then Ireland will fast lose an incredibly valuable "tourist" income. Anglers are not stupid. Anglers know when they are being had. Anglers want to catch fish, and they (we) are prepared to travel and spend to do so. But we will not travel and spend if the fishing ends up being no better than what we have got at home. Please do what you can here and work to safeguard one of Europe's true fishing gems.
Are you aware for example of the sometimes world class winter/spring bass fishing in Dingle and Kerry ? Reports last week were of some seriously good bass fishing from those desolate and stunning storm beaches. That fantastic fishing couple I met at the Hooked Live show in Dublin the other day are on yet another trip down to Dingle and I got a text to say that the bass fishing was going off big time. Consider the fact that this fishing mad couple live in Belfast. They are travelling almost right the way down their country to stay, fish and spend money in Dingle because the bass fishing is so good. And they do this multiple times a year. Would people like this do what they do if there were not so many fish to catch ? I doubt it.
I have said before that I am not a political animal and I don't tend to feel that comfortable banging the political drum so to speak - but this Irish "situation" is something I feel very strongly about, and yet again there are numbers of people doing tireless, unheralded and unpaid work on our behalf. I don't know what it is about fishing that attracts just the best kinds of people, but it reinforces why I have so much time for this fantastic sport. Imagine if everybody just sat back and collectively buried their heads and hoped all the bad things would just go away. Imagine if we did not have people like B.A.S.S., the Angling Trust and Irish Bass.org out there doing what they can (on either very limited or even no funds) to help safeguard the future of sport fishing. More and bigger fish equals more people going fishing - which I passionately believe is good for everybody in and around fishing. Yes, I earn my living from working around fishing, but first and foremost I am a fishing junkie who hopes that successive generations have some decent fish left to catch in our seas. The arrogance in believing that the oceans are there simply for us (mankind) to rape and plunder to our hearts content takes my breath away at times. We live on this planet. We don't own it. It isn't all there for us to indiscriminately remove as we see fit.