Mind if I join in guys?
I re-started sea fishing two years ago after a break of nearly 30 years. Since I came back to it, I have seen quite a few changes in both equipment used, fishing methods and species caught (although the latter may have more to do with location). I regularly fish the Dorset & Devon coast, mainly from the shore but occasionally from charter vessels. Watching trawlers raping Lyme Bay often leves me wondering just why I bother lobbing a hook in the water. I fish for a number of reasons: I enjoy cooking and eating fish but I also enjoy the experience of just being closer to the sea and consequently I am rarely disappointed if (more likely when) I blank. I will openly admit to macky bashing at times but I have never wasted any fish. I have half a freezer full for winter bait, I also have three kilner jars packed with soused mackerel and occasionally I will pass some to friends because they appreciate the difference in fresh-caught fish. One mate in particular is a keen, prize-winning gardener and last month he rewarded me for my Summer's generosity by bringing me a box full of wonderful onions, leeks and beans from his allotment. Does accepting his vegetables make me a "commercial"? After all, I am accepting benefit in kind.
In the past, I lived on the Yorkshire coast and was a member of an angling club. We'd fish shore matches during the winter and take to the boats in summer. Distance seemed no object, we all just enjoyed being out there but rarely did any of us blank. I also remember taking fish in the past that I would definitely return now. Any bass over about 6 lbs in weight will be crap eating, to be honest I'd sooner chew the table. I also once wona "fur & feather" with a 3 oz dab, from the Humber, I'm sure that the warts and other growths on that fish weighed more than the fish itself.
All of my elder male relatives were on deep-sea trawlers and after one "pleasuring"(sic) trip, I vowed that I wouldn't be taking up that as a career. When the Cod Wars kicked off, I naturally sided with my family. How dare Iceland stop us from taking "their" fish? After all, the oceans and anything in them, belonged to everybody but especially to British trawler owners. Now as a grey haired old fart, I can appreciate what Iceland were trying to do and the evidence is there that they still have a thriving local fishing industry. Whereas our lads were forced to steam further away in search of enough fish to turn the owners a profit, until the industry became unviable.
Having depleted the North Sea, North Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, EU boats are now targetting West African fisheries, in return for a bung to a corrupt government. These boats are now taking fish directly from people who need that fish to eat, the money will not filter down to the impoverished, that's for sure. We can all point to other countries' markets and accuse them of taking and selling immature fish. But we have a collective responsibility here, like it or not, we are part of the EU and as citizens of such a federation, we all have a responsibility, not only for our own actions but also to educate others too.
There has been much debate over the licensing of recreational sea angling, I was initially anti but am now firmly in the pro-licensing camp. Until we become stakeholders in sea fishing, we will have no voice whatsoever. The commercials pay for their rights to fish and consequently, they are listened to far more readily than we are. They are better organised and can get their message across at all levels of government and the civil service (the people who really run the country). The supermarkets have massive political clout that transcends natural land borders, they too have a voice that can be and is listened to.
Of course there will always be those who view a sea-fishing license as just another "stealth tax", they're probably the same people who view speed cameras in the same light but until we are seen to be making a contribution, we will continue to have no say.
I realise that this is a bit of a ramble but I felt I had to get my twopennorth in. Before I sign off, I'll leave you with a Cree Indian saying:
Only when the last fish is caught
Only when the last buffalo is killed
Only when the last river is polluted
And the last tree felled
Only then will mankind realise
That he cannot eat money
The fish in the sea belong to no one person or nation. They are on this earth for the benefit of us all. Let's make sure we leave some for those following on from us to enjoy.
Edited by coddy, 17 October 2006 - 06:09 AM.