Inland Fisheries Ireland would like to highlight a fresh development on recreational seabass angling: The European Union has introduced new regulations for the Irish seabass recreational fishery, which will operate on a catch and release basis for 2018.
This outcome is a result of successful negotiation by Minister for Agriculture Food and Marine, Michael Creed TD, at the Fisheries Council in Brussels last week where the initial proposal from Europe was for a complete ban on recreational fishing for six months and a catch and release fishery for six months.
Inland Fisheries Ireland now awaits updated Irish legislation from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to allow for the enforcement of a catch and release fishery in all areas of the country from January 1, 2018.
The new rule, which applies to Ireland, states: ‘In recreational fisheries, including from shore, in ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 7a to 7k, only catch-and-release fishing for European seabass shall be allowed. It shall be prohibited to retain on board, relocate, tranship or land European seabass caught in that area.’ The new regulation sees a consistent approach being applied throughout the Irish coastline.
The strict bass management regime currently operating for Irish waters is based on a heavily controlled and restricted recreational fishery. Bass anglers have an extremely positive approach to bass conservation, catch and release, and the requirement for good handling in order to maintain the species and their recreational activity.
Inland Fisheries Ireland would like to acknowledge the support of anglers for IFI’s ‘Citizen Science’ bass conservation programme; anglers, through their conservation-oriented ethos, have been the key stakeholders in supporting research into bass stock status over the past five years by providing catch and fish stock data, which has underpinned provision of scientific and management advice.
Economically, the bass recreational fishery is extremely valuable to rural coastal communities.
Some quick facts on the economic value of bass fishing and sea angling in Ireland:
According to the National Strategy for Angling Development document, ‘The Economic Contribution of Bass and Sea Angling in Ireland (2015)’, the total direct expenditure of anglers from all markets (Ireland, Northern Ireland and overseas visitors) on Irish bass and sea angling is in the region of €52 million and €116 million respectively. The total direct expenditure on recreational bass and sea angling in Ireland by anglers from all markets is estimated to be of the order of €168.6 million.
Recreational angling in Ireland can provide significant economic benefits to rural and peripheral regions whose natural angling resources can attract both domestic and overseas angling participants. In many cases, these rural areas may be devoid of any alternative tourist attractions and angling can provide an important and sustainable source of income for both the catering and accommodation service providers in these marginalised communities.
Recreational angling also has the ability to attract anglers at times outside of the main tourist seasons; the shoulder periods of March through May and again from mid-August through to October provide some of the best angling in Ireland and, as a consequence of this, they are the most popular angling months. These shoulder periods can help to extend the traditional tourist season for both accommodation and service providers with the potential to also provide increased employment and entrepreneurial opportunities within these communities.