This is a summary of a paper that Peter Macconnell produced for the EU Alternative Tourism Directorate (DG23). It sets out the key issues for recreational bass angling as an alternative tourism activity.
The European Sea Bass – A Sought After Commodity
The European Sea Bass is a much sought after commodity amongst recreational sea anglers. It has high status and is in the true sense a game fish. Like salmon, it is beautiful to behold, hard fighting, very good to eat, and can be caught by game fishing methods such as spinning and fly fishing, in an environment which is rugged, wild and beautiful in itself. Again like salmon, the bass has a fascinating life cycle and a capacity to enrapture anglers. A perusal of relevant angling literature will confirm this.
Recreational Sea Bass Angling – An Income Generator
Recreational bass angling is an activity similar to golf or sailing in the sense that it is a hobby/pastime activity on which participants are willing to spend significant amounts of their disposable income and around which they will also arrange vacation activities, whether these be full family or group holidays, or short breaks. Up to the present time, this tourism potential has gone unrecognised. This market potential for the sustainable use of this natural resource is under-exploited, though bass stocks are over-exploited by unsustainable commercial netting practices.
Specific evidence of the economic benefit of managing sea fisheries to sustain recreational rather than commercial activity can be found in the USA, Ireland, and even the UK.
Details of various American studies on the economics of recreational angling can be found on the American Sportfishing Association website.
Sea Bass Stocks – Now Is A Good Time To Act
Due to the trend of increased water temperatures in the areas that bass inhabit, there have been a series of excellent years for the survival of young fish. As these bass continue to survive and grow they are capable of providing outstanding recreational fishing opportunities for many years to come, provided that the stocks are not devastated by commercial netting. Due to the slow growth rate and longevity of bass it is possible, from present estimates of immature fish stocks, to forecast accurately what the adult stocks will be 7 years ahead. For example, the recruitment to adult stocks in the years 2003-2005 will be excellent. We have the best opportunity for twenty years to restore this economically and socially valuable recreational fishery.