21st May, 2010Below is the article by the Irish Bass group published in the Inshore Ireland newspaper.
The entire Common Fisheries Policy is about commercial fishing. The entire raft of EU Fisheries Subsidies is targeted to commercial fishing. The culture and mindsets that pervade the Governance of EU fisheries at both EU level and member state level are entirely about protecting and looking after commercial fishing. So clearly, for marine fish stocks in all EU waters, commercial fishing is by far the most valuable economic fishery activity.
Who says so? Here’s the rub – the EU say so!
Whole of the EU commercial catch (marine) is worth 6 billion euro. The EU recreational sea angling sector is valued at 10 billion euro. The commercial catch includes a wide variety of species of no direct interest to anglers.The commercial landing value of those species that the 8-10 billion euro angling sector is reliant upon may well be as little as 3 billion, yet Governance of those resources is totally dominated by commercial fishing and of course, the resources are actually nominated ‘commercial species’.
What do recreational anglers across the EU get for their annual €10 billion contribution? Just one species of marine fish in just one country in the EU is reserved for recreational anglers.
This fish was in a very depleted state due to over exploitation when it was handed over and being at the northern limit of its range and very slow growing it took a long time to show any signs of recovery. Now some commercial fishing interests in Ireland are trying to change the legislation that protects the only marine fish anglers have for themselves, the sea bass.
What’s worse is the fact that they are suggesting they are being discriminated against by not being allowed exploit the only marine fish that anglers have exclusive access to for their €10 billion a year contribution. The last time we had commercial fishing for bass in Ireland the stock was nearly wiped out.
Recreational fishing for sea bass supports hundreds of jobs and gives at least €8 million a year to the economy of Ireland. Very many of these jobs are in remote coastal areas where the current recession is proving very difficult for tourist businesses. Only recently Bellavista Hotel in Cork invested more than €1 million in a recreational bass angling business. Many other businesses were set up in the belief that the Irish bass stock would remain protected. Our previous Minister for fisheries appeared to have no concern for those people whose jobs depended on bass angling and our new minister Sean Connick TD has already said he would like see inshore bass stocks commercially exploited again. So anglers may lose the only thing they have to show for their 10 billion euro. And some commercial fishermen think they are discriminated against!