Zen2 is a great example of a low impact high yield fishing business but a ban on catch and release Bass fishing until July may destroy it ?
These are exciting and worrying times in the history of European Bass , stocks are low , something is finally being done to address this problem . I think we are all aware by now that finally after decades of neglect and spineless management policies throughout Europe our beloved Bass are now at the top of the list of priorities and the hottest topic in fisheries .Recreational anglers and organisations such as UKBASS have been relentless in pursuit of a better deal for Bass as a species and also Bass Anglers. I have been active for sometime now and have become something of a thorn in the side of Cornwall IFCA over the years . I have hassled and irritated the officers , pushed for private meetings , attended fisheries meetings and taken on the gill netters head on both on the water and at the table . We know the statistics about the value of recreational angling . Im not anti commercial fishing. I am anti bad fisheries management . I also own a small boat licensed for hook and line commercial fishing .
2016 will see the tenth anniversary of my Bass guiding business. The first time I took someone Bass fishing I charged him £ 60 for a full day of shore fishing, it makes me smile when I look back ! I think in 2006 I did 10 days guiding . Ten years later I charge an average of £320 a day I own a sports boat modified to be an MCA coded charter. boat . I fish guide for Bass 100 – 120 days a year. If you take into consideration the additional revenue I bring to this small Cornish Village in terms of holiday accommodation , meals in the local restaurants , beers in the pubs , pasties in the bakery ! I have worked the figure to be in excess of £ 70,000 . ( I spent £9,000 at Tescos in Helston on fuel for my boat last year !! ) One of the biggest names in hook and line Cornish Bass fishing wrote an article for one of the local newspapers earlier this year, moaning about the 42 CM minimum landing size . According to that article I think he made around £ 10,000 a year from harvesting Bass .
But now the business that I have worked incredibly hard to build up over 10 years faces uncertaintity .Completely banning all Bass fishing , even Catch and release until July will kill me. I will lose over 30 days at sea Thats close to 30 % of my business gone . Just to add insult to injury I hear rumours that while my charter boat sits on its trailer gathering dust the hook and line commercial fisherman may well actually still be out on the reefs harvesting up to 1000 kilos of bass per month in May and June . On Zen2 50 % of my customers fish 100 % catch and release for Bass . while the other 50 % take one slot size Bass home per day .
We have a growing fleet of specialist Bass fishing guides , charter boats and tackle retailers in the Uk depend on catch and release Bass fishermen . In France the Bass charter industry is huge in comparison with the UK . After decades of apathy and zero action to take hold of the Bass resource things look and feel like they may be happening so fast that the industry that does the least damage and provides the greatest GDP may be preparing to take the hardest blow.
A simple modification to the proposed policy from Zero Bass fishing to zero retention of Bass between January and July would turn a nightmare into a dream come true .
Thanks for reading
Austen Goldsmith www.ukbassfishing.com