Posts Tagged ‘Tourism angling’

Paradise Lost? Or How to Damage a Fishery within Five Years

Friday, June 28th, 2019

I first cast a line on the Beara peninsula in May 2005, close to the Dursey cable car, a 32 gram silver Kilty catcher and at a count of forty seconds, yes Dursey sound is that deep, I hit mackerel. Since then I have traveled down annually, sometimes bi-annually, on one fateful trip meeting and chatting with Roger Ball on the rocks at Garnish. Born out of that conversation developed a friendship centered around sea fishing, soccer and a love of the bountiful marine paradise which the rich coastal waters off Beara are, or should I say were, because they are under attack, from within.

Roger and his longtime friend Dave Hoskins have been traveling across from the United Kingdom and down to Beara for years, Roger came first in 1997. Both Cornishmen, they talk about how good the fishing was in the 1970′s around Plymouth where they grew up and how it was destroyed by over fishing. When Roger by accident found the Beara in 1997 while driving around Ireland he thought that he had landed in heaven, for there before his eyes were vast shoals of open sea mullet, his favourite fish to catch. From then on he returned most every year to walk the dogs along coastal paths with his wife and to fish.

Between Roger, Dave and I we have 22 years of knowledge built up about the shore fishing from Dunboy in Castletownberehaven around to Urhan close to Eyeries. In that time shore fishing mainly from rock platforms we have caught 21 species of fish ranging from bass to wrasse. What amazed us about the fishing was how many of the resident species such as conger, wrasse, pollack, bull huss, mullet, plaice and dab grew to their full potential size and also the numbers of fish available which in this day and age of over fishing at sea was staggering.

Well it was too good to last, year on year when we returned the fishing was as good if not better than the time before. Yes one could add that our improved catches were predicated on a build up of acquired knowledge, however the quality of fish and fishing never changed, for seventeen years it remained constant. Then in 2014 we noticed a change, the mullet were not as plentiful and the average size of pollack and wrasse on the marks that we fished began to shrink noticeably. Then, the clean ground marks which were paved with large dab up to specimen size began to produce less fish. Could all this be our collective imaginations running wild, were we losing our touch or getting paranoid. No, a trip planned for June 2019 unfortunately revealed everything that we had suspected.

On Saturday 22nd June 2019 we arrived at our holiday cottage all geared up for a weeks fishing. On the way we had supped Guinness in McCarthy’s Bar, Castletownbere, devoured bowls of Adrienne’s lovely chowder with brown bread and dug fleshy lugworms for a well looked forward to ground fishing session. The weather was not great, strong south to south east winds and rain but we persevered, lure fishing with spinners to catch a few medium size pollack but no mackerel on the first evening.

Sunday was a washout however things improved on Monday enough to seek out mullet and shore fish locally again for pollack and the hoped for mackerel which along with the mullet again were marked absent. A couple from northern Ireland who were fishing on a favoured mark near our cottage mentioned how they had been traveling down to fish for years but that on the last number of visits a perceptible decline in the fishing had set in. Might it just be an aberration said I, no it’s the result of gill netting they categorically said. My heart sank, as this is what Roger, Dave and I had always suspected but could not prove. The evidence was there, smaller fish sizes, dearth of mullet and flatfish, but we had never seen evidence, that is until the next morning Tuesday 25th June 2019.

With full tide around 11.30 am and a pet day ahead of us we hiked out onto the headland to a favourite mark which traditionally produces plenty of large pollack and wrasse. The form of this mark without fail is rods on the first cast doubling over to quality pollack hitting jelly worms. Numerous casts later we were fish less before a couple of juvenile pollack hit our lures, something was dreadfully amiss. Roger decided to wrasse fish and yes he had bites to hardback crab from the get go, but not from the mothers that we used to catch, instead their half pound offspring made up the offering. We were mystified but deep down knew, then we were informed.

The half decker tootled across the bay eventually lining up about eighty meters offshore commencing to shoot its net right across our casting line. It had taken us an hour to walk out and now we could not fish as this obvious gill net ( we could see it slipping over the stern of the boat) was well within our casting range. To add insult to injury a crew member lifted up a good size pollack and taunted us with it smiling as he motored by.

The really sad part is that they did not even have the whit to consider that it was tourists from another country they were mocking. Tourists that are long term friends and admirers of the Beara, tourists who sing its praises and encourage others to consider visiting, tourists who come twice a year, tourists who spend good money on accommodation, in O’Neills of Allihies, McCarthy’s Bar, Supervalu, the local petrol station, etc.

Now we knew the source of decline and it created a sick feeling in the stomach, a feeling of helplessness because Roger, Dave, Rob and I all knew the outcome of the action we were observing, a negative reduction of the fishery. These individuals were doing nothing wrong according to Irish law, they could carry on regardless and will, we all knew that nobody was going to stop this violation of a pristine marine biosphere, a diamond in the rough. I couldn’t continue fishing and said to the lads I’m heading back, they hung on for a while but eventually succumbed also as their heart was not in it.

For years we had respected this place, catch and release, an odd fish for the pot, our angling was a conduit, a way to connect with nature and give something back in return, the stories of basking sharks, dolphins playing tag, gannets diving, the sea alive with flashing fish, the few bob left in various local businesses, on Tuesday 22nd June 2019 modern life from our perspective caught up with paradise and chewed it up.

As stated earlier in this piece, from 1997 until 2014 the shore fishing we encountered between Crow Head and Cod’s Head to include Dursey never changed, it was totally consistent and always surprising us in the affirmative. To witness the mullet shoals was in itself incredible, when they merged with mackerel and sprat as we saw on occasions the spectacle was blue planet stuff.

Marine spectacles as described above are less likely to occur now in and around Dursey bay because post 2014 gill netting, using in this instance a net approximately 500 meters long (a legal practice) which did not occur in this area to the scale that we witnessed before 2014, has taken out the vast resident mullet shoals and is now having a right go at the pollack, flatfish and whatever else swims into their indiscriminate invisible plastic meshes. To cap it all the boat was targeting prime wrasse to be used as pot bait, what an ignominious end for a wonderful sport fish.

This writer comes from a family with coastal fishing in its bones, was taught how to dig bait, long line, trammel net, lay pots, tie knots, row boats and understand the sea by my father, grandfather and uncles. I was taught to respect the sea and respect the creatures within it. I was taught how to maintain a fishery by leaving some for tomorrow, never to be greedy. If this plunder continues, which it will unless there is Government, EU, or better still local intervention, there will eventually be no adult fish left and the dynamic of a wonderful local unique to Ireland marine ecosystem will be altered forever. It may take a decade or two but it will happen as evidenced on Ireland’s east coast.

It would make you weep, in just a few short years the fishing has been damaged, not as yet mortally, but if it is not curtailed the future for the coastal bays off Dursey Island and Allihies Bay is stark and I should know, I saw the incredible mixed fishery off Greystones Co. Wicklow disappear before my eyes within ten years once the mussel dredging commenced. However the future for Dursey could be different as there is still time, again it just needs people to be informed and not be afraid to speak out.

No one is saying for one moment that local people in rural areas should not earn a contribution to their living from fishing, quite the opposite in fact, community managed sustainable artisan inshore coastal fisheries are part of the solution to marine over fishing. However, in that context no individual has the right to say that a shared resource is theirs alone, which is exactly what is happening on the Beara peninsula and other such places around the Irish coastline and the state has to recognise this fact and be the catalyst for social change by introducing radical inclusive legislation acknowledging that all citizens have a stake in the marine and not just those who choose to commercially fish.

A way forward would be for the state to Firstly, ban monofilament gill and tangle nets forthwith as they are lethal indiscriminate fishing engines, continue to fish as “ghost nets” if lost in storms and these same lost nets become major contributors to micro plastic pollution as they eventually rot and break up. Instead artisan line fishing should be promoted and encouraged as an inshore fishing methodology which is more environmentally friendly being less indiscriminate and also delivers a higher quality end product for market.

Secondly, the targeting of ballan wrasse for pot bait should be banned immediately and instead fishermen/women should be encouraged to obtain carcasses and fish heads from fish processing operations for pot bait instead.

Thirdly, community managed marine protected zones should be established in key areas such as the Beara around the country to protect and preserve wild places, nursery areas, habitats and local ecosystems which are the foundation stones for the wider marine biosphere. These zones would not necessarily be no take but most certainly would be net free, with creeling (potting) allowed inside under a management plan, commercial line fishing outside or along the perimeter where the over spill of prime fish would occur, and sea angling would be catch and release using barbless hooks.

The above is a loose template but has merit for further discussion as within its frame resides inclusivity which is key to successful long term management of Ireland’s coastal resources. The present modal is predicated on take while giving nothing back as this story shows and that path as is abundantly clear has led Ireland’s and the worlds marine fisheries to where they are today, broken and or severely strained.

Meanwhile those who make a living or contribution to their income from fishing complain of lack of fish, or reduced access to fish when in actual fact there are reduced numbers of fish relative to what there was because of the methodologies and approach that the industry they are part of employs. In effect the industry is shooting itself in the foot while those who work within the sector point the finger at everybody but themselves as to why they cannot catch or access whatever fish are left. This race to the bottom breeds a mentality of take what you can while it is still there before someone else gets it.

In this day and age of climate change, biodiversity loss and musings on the value of natural capital how we interact with resources is vital and obviously changes in approach are essential. Sadly, when it comes to what is left of sea fishing in rural areas trying to introduce change is akin to sucking blood out of a stone as the same old cliches will be trotted out with vehemence even when the fishing as it used to be has died. Its our resource, we looked after it, its what we have always done. Compromise, which is the way forward, where everybody benefits will be a dirty word but that is where we must go.

So if anyone has read this piece and been moved by it, please send a letter or email to the Minister for fisheries, Minister for Tourism, Environmental NGO’s, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the CEO of Failte ireland and anybody else you can think of who might make a difference at a national decision making level, calling for protection of our wild marine places, the adoption of environmentally friendly fishing methodologies and practices and recognition of all stakeholders when it comes to resource use management. Your efforts could just make a difference. Thank you………..

PS: The images used in this piece are from previous trips, not the one described above.

Ashley Hayden © June 2019

Assisting Fellow Tourist Anglers & Fishers

Monday, August 29th, 2016

In 2010 I set up the An Irish Anglers World website because as a traveling angler within my own country I could not access relevant and correct angling information that would enable me to hit the ground running wherever I chose to fish. Today An Irish Anglers World contains 329 posts and 129 pages of published articles across eight categories reflecting a range of Irish angling disciplines all of which provide current information relative to my own experience of Irish angling venues at specific dates and times.

A fine Greystones Co. Wicklow, Ireland tope and one happy sea angler.

It’s great to know that the sites ethos works especially when one receives messages of support and thanks from people who have contacted me for information. Such requests have emanated from countries as far away as New Zealand and the USA to the United Kingdom and as close as Co. Wicklow.

Typical questions would be:

Am over at the end of the month any suggestions as to were is fishing well, we’re staying around Kilmore way again so anywhere around that ways ….will be bringing my own bait over this time?


I’ve read your own angling report, Tope Alley, suggesting to fish at various marks inside and outside the red buoy using a mackerel flapper or whole joey but all I’ve managed, on at least ten occasions at this stage, is the odd LSD – is there any advice you could give me regarding tides, fishing depth, anchoring/drifting?! It would be greatly appreciated!

The end result for the latter question, caught within the last fortnight is pictured above, the anglers smile says it all, while the former sent me this report of an angling holiday in Wexford circa summer 2016:

Well them mullet are getting bigger had a few around of 6lb…but seen some that must be 10lb easy…but crafty as they come.had a Rosslare yesterday had over 30 bass but none over a pound great sport tho….had a good day at Slade fishing for the wrasse and Pollock…

In all cases I am glad to help, like Ronseal An Irish Angler’s World does what it says on the tin…………..

Ireland Ranked Worst Offender in EU Waters for Over Fishing

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Well it would appear to be official, Ireland is the EU member state with the worst record for politically granted over fishing within North East Atlantic waters.

A report entitled – “Landing the Blame” – compiled by the New Economics Foundation, an independent organisation promoting economic well-being based in London, was produced to assess and clarify those EU member states most responsible for setting fishing quotas above scientific advice.

EU commercial fishing quotas are set annually each December at a closed door meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers in Brussels attended by Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Simon Coveney.

The report concluded that Minister Coveney negotiated the largest proportional increase in fishing quotas for Ireland above scientifically advised levels last December, with Ireland’s quotas exceeding scientific advice by 25%.

Griffen Carpenter, a co-author of the report, is quoted as saying “there is a lack of transparency around these closed-door negotiations and pressure should be placed on member states to recognise the benefits of following scientific advice and managing marine ecosystems in a sustainable manner”.

Environmentalists world wide agree that over fishing is harmful to the marine environment threatening the long-term viability of the worlds marine habitats.

Over fishing also contravenes the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy which set 2015, where possible, as the target date by which to end EU over fishing.

To read the Report Click On: Landing the Blame for Over Fishing in the North East Atlantic 2016.


Garth Brooks, Tourism Angling and Irish Méféinism

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

I question does the average Irish citizen really understand the true meaning of both civic cooperation and national pride, or underneath all the “come all ye” does a sense of  méféinism prevail.

Wild Montana Brownie.

The Garth Brooks concerts were cancelled due to a number of reasons of which the Irish people will probably never be fully informed. That said, allowing for commercial mistakes one factor is very clear, a small minority at the outset objected, said no as is their democratic right and as a result:

  • Ireland’s tourism brand image is tarnished.
  • Question marks will be asked internationally about our commercial ability.
  • €50 million directly will be lost to the Irish economy.
  • €15 million will be lost to Dublin’s restaurant and pub trade alone.
  • Hospitality jobs both full and part time are threatened.

In 2012, this writer put 18 months research and planning plus €15,000 savings into a fledgling tourism operation. Upon being given the green light by “The National Parks and Wildlife” and “Dublin City Council” yours truly was thwarted at the eleventh hour by, the bullying tactics of committee members from a well respected angling association and the uncharitable behaviour of certain high up people within a national youth organisation. Both it has to be said used covert tactics which would never appear above the radar, so enabling their squeaky clean image to remain intact.

As a result this soldier after being let go from permanent employment in 2010 had to rethink again his job prospects while also cancelling active bookings.  A small, but significant for this writer, example of narrow minded people acting in their own self interest causing distress to my family, loss of local tourism revenue, tourism advertising and a job or two for east Co. Wicklow.

It would appear that this type of negative human action is a national malaise which can pop up and destroy at any time. When this particular cohort of begrudging Irish citizenry start on their selfish crusades do they ever think of the bigger picture. Ireland is a country of 4.5 million people sitting on the periphery of Europe, indebted up to its eye balls but equally possessing oodles of potential, will we ever allow ourselves to fully achieve it?


Promoting Sea Angling in a Digital World

Friday, September 13th, 2013

150, 000 UK based sea anglers travel to fish spending eight days per calander year outside England and Wales (Drew and Associates, 2004). Establishing where this cohort resides then subsequently presenting a balanced portrayal of Irish sea angling and how to access it, developing contacts and building trust (Relationship Marketing) will result in dividends. Analysis of a recent post on shore fishing published on this site entitled “Fishy Rambles in Deepest West Cork“, dated 03/09/2013, is quite revealing.

A nice shore pollack for Dave Hoskins a visitor from the United Kingdom.

Providing a link to the report within a post on a well frequented UK sea angling forum, ten days later the thread had received 747 visits. Delving further through Google analytics it became apparent that 289 people had made a unique visit to view “Fishy Rambles in Deepest West Cork” from the aforementioned link staying on the page for 1.53 minutes, ergo they read it. Further analysis showed that 9 visitors proceeded deeper into the site seeking linked information. This development is very positive for it tallies very closely with accepted sales returns eminating from the web of between 1 and 2 percent. By extension based on an excepted industry metric, of those 9 who sought further information there is a real possibility that 3 to 6 of them may very well end up sea fishing in West Cork within a year or two.

Comments from the thread would substantiate that claim.

  • Great report, I love reading them, keep them coming.
  • Great report buddy, some classy fish there.
  • Well done great report thanks for sharing.
  • Some nice fish. A great session.

Dan O’Brien, the Irish Times economics editor, addressing staff of BT Ireland earlier this year referenced “Market Penetration” as a key area of innovation that the indiginous Irish business sector, of which tourism is a key component, should focus on and develop. The above exercise would tend to endorse his view………..

Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Only in Ireland will we spend €110,000 establishing the value of recreational angling while continuing to abuse and destroy the very resource which enables the pursuit. Analysis of the recently published Tourism Development International report put the direct value of sea angling to include domestic and tourism receipts at €127.5 million. With income from tourism sea angling amounting to €33 million, a figure which if a more focused marketing approach was implemented could be increased greatly, why at Government level do we still continue to not recognise the product category, but instead continue to view sea angling as just an add on bonus.

Let us preserve pollack like this.

Since 2005 I have been taking at least two sea angling breaks a year shore fishing in West Cork, staying in B/B’s and or self catering. Through this website yours truly has championed the quality sea fishing that this beautiful exposed south west corner of Ireland has to offer. Over the last three trips a decline in fish size and numbers has become evident on the marks that I fish, so much so that I started to ask questions, the result is sad and can only be described as two fingers being raised from both certain local people and official Ireland towards those who cherish and support this wild rural area.

Wrasse now targeted for the Chinese market.

At the start of 2013 this writer was criticised for publishing a piece assessing Ireland’s Tourism Sea Angling Product entitled “Reading Between the Lines“, as if the piece was treasonous. Eight months on I stand by what I wrote all the more. On some West Cork rock marks that I frequent wrasse are being targeted and according to my research gill netted for the Chinese market, pollack also are being gill netted so much so that the average size on certain locations has dropped dramatically, grey mullet, normally prodigious, where nowhere to be seen on my most recent visit, and the few patches of inshore clean ground are now being trawled, where not three years ago specimen dab abounded there is now little or nothing.

Specimen dab for Dave Hoskins from Plymouth.

Where once the fleet from Castletownbere went offshore and the only inshore fishing noticeable was potting, now apparently according to a very trust worthy local source anything goes, from commercial jigging to setting gill nets so close to the rocks in search of wrasse that they are exposed at low tide. I’ll say no more, instead I’ll quote the English and Northern Irish tourists.

“Trawlers were working close to shore. No sign of mullet anywhere. This and the lack of decent pollack is a real worry. I am inclined to Dave’s (Dave Hoskin’s a tourist sea angler from Plymouth) view that this is a result of commercial overfishing as it is a dramatic deterioration and we have seen the evidence of the trawling”. Roger Ball, UK tourist angler.

we used to go to dingle in kerry every year for a bass session, but have given up on that side now due to the illegal netting. it’s all getting a bit out of hand now ffs. and sadly the locals know who the culprits are but nothing ever seems to get done about it“. Al Marsden, Nth Ireland, (lifted from Henry Gilbey’s Facebook page, 03/09/2013

there seems to be more commercial activity locally, I saw the average size of pollack decrease every year since I started operating”. John Angles, ex charter skipper.

Further reading: Postscript to Reading Between the Lines.

Choosing Ireland as a Sea Fishing/Angling Holiday Destination

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Sea fishing in West Cork Ireland.

A key element of a destination marketing project I am undertaking to evaluate what motivates tourist sea anglers/fishers to first consider, then choose, and finally travel to a particular destination. With Ireland in mind I would be very grateful for any views/comment/opinion received under the following headings;

  • What is your primary motive/reason for considering a destination sea angling/fishing holiday?
  • What do you look for in a sea angling/fishing destination holiday?
  • Which is more important to your decision making process, trade advertising or word of mouth?
  • Which are more relevant to your information search, trade magazine articles, internet articles, or word of mouth?
  • Is Irish angling holiday information easy to access and accurate?
  • Do you prefer traveling as an individual or within a group?
  • What is your optimum length of sea angling/fishing holiday and what time of year suits best?
  • How much of a factor is cost?
  • Why choose Ireland?
  • If you have previous experience of a sea angling/fishing holiday in Ireland might you supply a brief overview of how your actual experience matched your pre – holiday expectations.
  • If you have previously had a sea angling/fishing holiday within Ireland, have you returned and why?

Relative to this project a tourist angler includes Irish nationals and non nationals permanently resident abroad, and all those resident in Ireland who travel and fish within Ireland spending at least one bed night away. Any information received will be treated with the strictest confidence. Please also supply name, age, country of origin, and number of years angling.

Email information to:

An alternative user option, click on link to Survey Monkey:

As a third option I have left the comments box open.

Hoping to reach a quorum of 100 individual returns, your input is much appreciated.

Thank you to all respondents.