Angling Notes: New tool helps track changes in stocks of marine fish

‘Fleksi’ taps into ecological knowledge of Irish sea anglers, complementing science

Matthew Campbell fly fishing for bass at Greenore, Co Louth

Matthew Campbell fly fishing for bass at Greenore, Co Louth

 

An important new tool that captures anglers’ knowledge and hands-on experience to help track changes in stocks of marine fish, has been developed by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). Entitled “Fleksi”, the new practice taps into the ecological knowledge of Irish sea anglers as a way of complementing scientific knowledge.

More than 650 recreational anglers have contributed to the development, which was highlighted in the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) Journal of Marine Science earlier this month.

Fleksi can track how fisheries change over time and could have a much broader application to conserve or manage fisheries internationally, as EU member states are obliged to develop data collection programmes for marine recreational fisheries.

Of those anglers who participated (some with more than 40 years’ experience), each were asked how sea angling fared “today” compared to when they first started.

Based on their reflections and awareness, the results suggest that stocks of cod, whiting and bass have declined over the last four decades. Importantly, this perception matches with stock assessments from ICES, which is the organisation tasked with determining stock status for all sea fish species in European waters.

The Fleksi tool paper is available from ICES Journal of Marine Science website

Dr William Roche, IFI’s senior research officer, explained: “Ireland is known throughout the world for its iconic sea angling resources, attracting up to 185,000 anglers annually. We wanted to create a framework that could capture these anglers’ observations, to help us better understand long-term changes in recreational fisheries and to act as an early warning signal for long-term changes.”

Dr Samuel Shephard, IFI’s senior research officer, added: “Anglers have a leading role to play in conservation. They spend many hours outside, observing nature and the fish they catch. Over an angling career, this experience can become a unique insight into the status of our fisheries.”

The Fleksi tool paper is available from ICES Journal of Marine Science website. The report is authored by Dr Samuel Shephard (lead author), Diarmuid Ryan, Paul O’Reilly and Dr Willie Roche.

The tender process for state fisheries for 2022 is now open. To view the list of fisheries available plus end-of-year report and additional required documentation, contact Paul O’Reilly at email address below.

To tender for one or more fisheries, download the “condition of tender questionnaire and return to address indicated.

Tenders will be accepted until December 17th, 2021; proof of postage on or before this date will be accepted. Mark envelope Tender Application and send to Paul O’Reilly, Business Development, Inland Fisheries Ireland, 3044 Lake Drive, Citywest, Dublin 24.

If your club is interested in a longer term licence, fill out relevant section and IFI will contact you. However, please tender the “per year” licence fee.

Clubs who held a licence on state fisheries during the 2021 season need to fill out an “end of year report” form and return to above address by December 17th, 2021. Alternatively, complete the form here. Contact paul.oreilly@fisheriesireland.ie for further information.

If you have an angling story to share, please send to me at angling@irishtimes.com.

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