From the Enniscorthy Guardian:

Interpreting our bass resource

Tuesday October 04 2011

LAST week I called on Wexford County Council to consider building an interpretative centre for bass angling on or close to a particular location south of Rosslare Harbour. It is hard to make a pitch through a column confined to a few hundred words, but here goes.

The Bass (Dicentrachus Labrax) is to Ireland a finite resource at the extent of its northerly range, slow growing not becoming sexually active until at least 2 kg. (4.4 lbs.) in weight. A bass of this size could be up to ten years old.

Much loved as a table fish, and sought after by restauranteurs, the bass also enjoys premier league status as a rod and line sport fish. A large mantle for one species to carry, which it does with some aplomb, so why then with so much prestige attached is the resource so badly managed and so little understood?

The word on the ground in County Wexford is that poaching of bass is rife and that the perpetrators are well known to the authorities. Also that rogue anglers are flouting the very clear bye-laws attached to the species and taking more than their limit of two fish per 24 hours.

The perception on the ground is that there is no coordination between the government bodies responsible for protection of the species, namely the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). Before the wagons are circled, this writer is only transmitting a message which is clearly felt within the angling community based on conversations that I have had, and is reflected also on various angling-based social media.

Farmed bass as I write fetches €15 per kilo wholesale, and wild fish being more desirable can make a hell of a lot more. Taking the above figure as a baseline, an average 40 kg. fish box filled with bass can turn €600.

On a good night, illegally-set nets stand to make thousands for their owners; this is big business and contrary to existing legislation. Portrayed as poor fishermen if they ever reach court, the above exercise proves the contrary. A few known individuals/families in south Wexford are decimating a national resource, and it is time finally to shout stop.

Viewed another way, a 2 kg. fish caught and released by a tourist angler is not worth the market price of €30 to Wexford, but upwards of €150 (the minimum daily spend of a rod and line tourist sea angler). The maths say it all, conserve and protect, while educating the people as regards this fabulous resource and the benefits will surely follow.

300,000 bass anglers in the UK alone are watching carefully how we manage our bass resource. Wexford County Council would earn serious kudos and muchneeded tourist revenue if they endorsed the sterling silver swimming off our shores. A bass interpretative centre would go a long way towards doing just that.