The Centre for Economics and Management of Aquatic Resources (CEMARE) has been commissioned by MAFF to assess the economic values of the exploitation of bass in the UK (Dunn, M R, Potten, S D, Radford, A F, Whitmarsh D, An Economic Appraisal Of The Fishery For Bass In England And Wales. CEMARE. University Of Portsmouth 1989; Potten, S D, Surveying Marine Recreational Fishing For Bass In England And Wales, CEMARE, University Of Portsmouth 1992).
In 1993, their figures show that the commercial catch, at first sale values, was a little under £5 million, whereas during the same period the recreational fishery generated almost £19 million worth of expenditure (Pickett, G D, Eaton, D R, Cunningham, S, Dunn, M R, Potten S D, Whitmarsh D, An Appraisal Of the UK Bass Fishery And Its Management, Directorate Of Fisheries Research, Lowestoft 1995).
Much of this spending by recreational bass anglers goes into the coastal and tourism parts of the economy. It creates and sustains many more jobs and businesses than does commercial fishing. There exists the potential for much greater income generation; at the time of the last survey (National Rivers Authority, National Angling Survey. HMSO Publications 1994), there were more than 1.1 million recreational sea anglers in the UK.
The Irish experience is sufficiently well documented to merit a separate discussion.
Europe-wide, the number of recreational sea anglers is likely to exceed 8 million. Published studies have shown that the income generated in the UK from recreational bass angling was between 5 and 6 times that generated by commercial exploitation of the species. Consideration needs to be given to the likely equivalent figures for those European countries which also have natural bass populations. Clearly the opportunity to stimulate sea angling tourism, for the benefit of all European coastal regions is very substantial.
In most European waters the significant economic and social benefits of recreational sport angling have been overlooked for far too long. Should the current decline of fish stocks eventually be reversed to one of restoration (clearly an objective for EU DG14), there are a number of species which at one time used to contribute to recreational angling and would undoubtedly do so again; it is difficult to imagine a better candidate than the European sea bass.