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Whose Harvest?

Aug 03,2000 Chris Pledge

Statistics recently released show that recreational sea angling is now worth twice as much as commercial fishing.

Official Government recordings of fish landings (the bulk of which I understand was made up of shellfish and scallops) show that in 1997, £235m was raised commercially. The minimum amount spent by sea anglers has been calculated at £570m.

In the light of these figures, let's hope the powers that be wake up and start to give greater consideration to the needs of anglers. As Malcolm Gilbert of Ammo Baits say's in the sixth edition of Get Hooked - a guide to angling in the Southwest; "Is recreational harvesting of a resource any less legitimate than conventional commercial harvesting?"

He also makes the point that "superficially the general public's sympathy tends to go to the commercial fisherman for he is perceived as the jovial Captain Birdseye doing his level best in a dangerous environment to put food on the table for his family. This romantic notion, however, is quite clearly many decades out of date. Today's fishing fleet, assisted with sophisticated electronics, hydraulics and synthetic net/rope materials is perfectly capable of eradicating fish stocks, species after species."


Recently, I've read that Tesco's in Dublin have actually been selling ballen wrasse fillets in one of their outlets as an exotic species, I believe that they are also handing out recipe leaflets in order to promote it's sale - given it's taste they need to! My source said it's probably on sale because there's nothing else sizeable left in the Irish Sea? Just how big does a wrasse have to be before you can get a decent piece of flesh from it without chewing on a mouthful of bones, 5lb plus?

Issue 74 of Sainsbury's in house magazine has a recipe for fish soup that requires as part of the ingredients an 11-ounce whole bass or sea bream - the bream might be in size, but the bass? I know what the reply will be when I question them on this, "Our bass are farmed"- yeah, OK, there aren't enough bass farms in the world to supply the major chains in the UK, let alone other countries needs?

And I spotted that some supermarkets are now selling tope; it cost's more than fresh salmon!


To address these and other issues, we need to mobilise ordinary anglers. We should be putting pressure on our club committee's, but, taking my local tackle shop as an example, 80% of those who buy items in there have no affiliation whatsoever to a club - how do we motivate them?

Yes we should be putting pressure on the NFSA, EFSA and SAMF as angler's representatives. But this can only be achieved by highlighting problems and not burying them below the low tide level in a vain hope they will be flushed away?

Perhaps the Sea Anglers Conservation Network is a start. Let’s hope so.


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