In Ireland, as elsewhere on this planet, conservation is necessary to protect the variety of fish in our waters. Anglers are asked to keep this in mind while still making the most of the good sport on offer. In sea angling, most cartilaginous sport fishes are tagged and returned alive by charter skippers. Boat and shore competitions organised under the aegis of the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers are also fished on a conservation basis.
The vast majority of Irish charter skippers and a number of private individuals participate voluntarily in a National Marine Sport-fish Tagging and Conservation Programme operated by Inland Fisheries Ireland. The programme is designed to collect data on the habits and movements of those species deemed to be most susceptible to over-fishing, particularly the cartilaginous fishes (sharks, skates and rays) which are very important to the Irish angling industry. Fish are measured, sexed and marked with a numbered fin tag or wing disc, before being returned alive to the water. The information gathered is then transferred to a database at the Inland Fisheries Ireland headquarters in Swords Co. Dublin. Tags have been returned from all over the Atlantic Ocean from places as far afield as Barbados, Long Island, the Azores, Canary Islands and the Mediterranean. Anglers are requested to assist skippers, where possible, in returning all cartilaginous species and other unwanted fish alive to the sea. Results from the tagging programme have shown that several species are in danger of over exploitation in traditional angling grounds. In the interests of conservation the Irish Specimen Fish Committee removed the Common Skate (Raja batis), Monkfish (Squatina, squatina) and Undulate Ray (Raja undulata) from the eligible list of species.
Sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, have enjoyed legal protection in Ireland since 1990. Anglers fishing for bass is Ireland are now bound EU Regulations.
- 1 January to 28 February, only catch-and-release fishing
- 1 March to 30 November – 2 fish bag limit. A minimum size limit of 42cm applies.
- 1 December to 31 December, only catch-and-release fishing
These measures are enforced by the staff of Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency. All concerned anglers on seeing any of the above laws being violated should report the matter to their local Inland Fisheries Ireland office.