Finding it

The sense of total human absence is not how wilderness advocates define a wild place. Rather, the concept of a wilderness is related to the degree of human influence. Because humans have lived in all landscapes except Antarctica does not mean that human influence is uniformly distributed. Wilderness should be viewed as those places largely influenced by natural forces, rather than dominated by human manipulation and presence. Downtown Los Angeles is without a doubt a human-influenced landscape, but a place like Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is certainly not significantly manipulated or controlled by humans. Though, certainly, low numbers of humans have hunted, camped and otherwise occupied small portions of the refuge for centuries, the degree of human presence and modification is small. The Arctic Refuge lands are, most wilderness advocates would argue, self-willed.

By such a definition, there are many parts of the world that are to one degree or another largely self-willed.

Wuerthner G (2018)
Anthropocene boosters and the attack on wilderness conservation.

The Ecological Citizen 1: 161–6.


The white blackbird

The mystery for me was the way the folded newspaper packet felt. Not only was it impossibly neat and flat but it was also cold and a little damp on one side. When he opened it on the maroon deck at the bow of the lightship the worms were big and moved with a thousand legs, lightly covered in cool sand, they were green and brown and bright orange. I could identify their heads by two feelers that waved in the breeze. There were a dozen worms.

He picked one up and said

‘Be careful Jem, they’ll bite ya here’

He held the worm behind its head and showed me. Two hard black shiny pincers suddenly emerged from folds of green and blue worm skin, they moved forward opened and closed and then retreated, emerged again trying to bite. He stuck the bent silver hook into the worm and expertly threaded it along the body past the barbs on the point of the hook and up the shank, even onto the line. He left a little hanging off the bend that squirmed and twisted and a piece broke off and fell to the deck, it moved into a gap between the boards, twisting, a flake of blue paint stuck to it. He put another worm on a hook, showing me close and then I had to put the third worm on the paternoster

The paternoster rig was made from monofilament and brass swivels were attached at each end, one was fastened onto a flat circular lead with little cones that ran around it, it had a hole in the middle that I put my finger through. The other end was attached to a hand line of orange line wrapped around a wooden frame.

When I looked up there was a man at the window of the big room high above the deck he was looking down at us and then looked away as the train passed close along the quay. I had been in that room before, up the steps, and it had a round window that turned and spun quickly to keep the spray from big waves and rain off. The wipers on the other windows were broken now and there was red lino on the floor that was worn to black where you had to step over and into the room and around the places at the base of dead instruments. There were little timber steps of three painted black made for visitors to stop them tripping over the wave cill but they were never in place now.

You had to go down the steep steps backwards when you were leaving.

He pulled the line from the frame and it spun and fell against the deck rose and spun again until it was empty, the line was knotted to the frame and now lay in uneven coils about the deck.

‘Careful Jem’ he said ‘I’ll cast this for ya’.

He stood arm outstretched with the line over his finger pinched with thumb, lead dropping down, three worms dripping bleeding bubbles and juice, he made the lead pendulum, wider and wider and then as it swung higher than the gunwale he let it go. The orange line flew up and off the deck as the lead carried it into the harbour. His foot was on the frame and it moved slightly from under his shoe as the line tightened at the end and then stopped moving. He gave me the frame.  A sudden breeze blew the packet of worms down the deck, he caught it, and placed it under the giant black anchor chain. Someone recognised him from the quay

‘Heh Jimmy, howaryeh?’ –

He went to the other side of the lightship, hands on the wide rail, and spoke a few words I couldn’t hear, coming back laughing, he bent down to me

‘Hold it tight’ he said, ‘but dont pull it in until I come back, if you feel ’em bitin, pull hard, I’ll be up there with Jack’.

I couldn’t see over the gunwale but I could look through a gap at the hinges of what was a big door and I saw the line droop down to the green harbour water and disappear. I held the frame and I felt nothing. I pulled the line it rose and tightened and drooped again. I waited, holding onto the frame and watched him walk down the deck and into the lightship, he appeared again in the high window of the big white room, two men walking towards each other.

Somebody came across the gangplank and tried to get on board to vist the museum but the lightship was closed now. Where the wheels of the gangplank moved slowly with the rise and fall of tide a worn strip was carved in the timber quay, deep in the middle, and light at each end and sometimes you heard the wide steel wheels screech as the lightship rose or fell. Black tyres hung off the wooden quay as fenders and kept the lightship off. Cream soft ropes hung from the bow and stern over the old quay warps and the giant rudder was permanently placed to starboard. Grey fish hung in the tide between the hull and the green wooden piles sucking on mussels as floating shit passed them by.

GUILL1-3I felt a rattling pull along the line, it stopped and suddenly started again and then I felt another stronger pull. I pulled back, bent over looking through the gap in the gunwale seeing the line tight to the green water and moving now to my left. It started to rain a little.

Then I heard him beside me

‘Pull it in now Jem’, he said, ‘hand over hand, steady as she goes’

I retrieved the line hand over hand and felt of course the live things at the far end fighting in the tide, struggling and swimming against the pull of line. The line was over the handrail and moved left and right and then as it swung free from the tide there was a sudden dead vibrating weight at the end. I heard the lead hit the hull, twice.

‘Keep haulin sunshine’ he said ‘nearly there’ and then he grabbed the line laughing and lifted it over the gunwale onto the deck at my feet. There was an olive and silver eel on the bottom hook, tying itself in knots, snots of slime, trying to escape the hook, impossible colours of lavender and chartreuse shone on its white belly as it squirmed, tangling the line.

On the middle hook was a bright silver fish of about 12 inches.

I kneeled to look at the fish and saw ferocity in its eyes, an attitude of anger and fearsome bravery emanated from the fish. His gills were flared making him look bigger, a big set of spikes stood along the fin on his back, he was bent like a snake and he shook and flashed when I touched him. His back was chromed navy blue almost black running down, blending to a lighter dark grey and blue and eventually over to a bright white belly. I could see my reflection in his scales.

I reached to grab him and immediately felt a spike in my hand.

‘Watch him Jem’, my grandfather said, ‘show me’, kneeling beside me, I held out my hand and he muttered something about being twice married. It was raining heavy now. He took a bone handled penknife from his pocket opened it and cut the line at the hook where the eel was caught and flung him overboard. Reaching for the bass, his big hand surrounded the fish and he held him tight whilst removing the hook. There was some blood.

‘Too small Jem, he’ll have to go back’  and he threw the fish over the gunwale from his low position.

‘Come on outta this rain, we’ll go up to Jack and get a cup of tea’.

We went into the lightship and up the steep steps to the room where the instruments were. It was warm and smoky and there was a paraffin fire lighting, a box of cigarettes, with sailor on the front. Jack said hello and shook my hand and I stood up on a black box to look out the windows. I saw the newspaper packet of worms breaking  open in the heavy rain on the deck, some of the worms were washing out.

‘The rain will kill them’ said my grandfather.

‘Do you think I could go down and see the white blackbird?’ I asked.

18. Mar 2011 at 20:00 – From the archives of Wexford Camera Club

The Guillemot is being dismantled as we speak. I have heard a lot of comments about what a disgrace this is but it seems that the people who care about this do not have the money or the wherewithal to do anything to save it. I tried to find some information on line but there is little available. I found the following on the Commissioners for Irish Lights website.
Built 1921/23 by Cran & Somerville, Leith; length 102 feet, breadth 24 feet, depth 12½ feet; construction all steel; five watertight bulkheads; steel mast and fixed lantern; mizzen mast carrying day mark; masts for wireless; cost £17,700; sold in 1968 to Wexford Maritime Museum Committee. Towed by ILT Atlanta to Rosslare. Taken in tow over Wexford Harbour Bar. Moored alongside quay at Wexford. Subsequently moved to Kilmore Quay and set in concrete.
This is the only photograph I can find in my collection, to date anyway, showing the Guillemot moored on Wexford Quays. It is scanned from a colour negative.
This is the ship moored in concrete at Kilmore Quay. I am led to believe that she was bedded in concrete following a storm in January 1990 which did severe damage to the harbour and caused the ship to break from her moorings.
Vandalism is cited as one of the reasons why maintaining the ship at Wexford Quays proved untenable. It seems the local authorities were not in a position to undertake its upkeep.
According to press reports Wexford County Council had to take action on the grounds of health and safety.
So now the ship is being cut up for scrap. According to a local I spoke to earlier this week the steel is quite valuable. “Pre nuclear” were the words he used. I looked it up and it does exist.
So that’s it. No going back now.


Blood choices

At first blush, a sport that measures success by ripping a creature from its environment, putting it in fear for its life, and sometimes taking that life would seem to have more to do with survival of the fittest than more soulful notions such as ethics and principles. But there is a lot of right and wrong in fly fishing, and the right carries over into much else that humans have the choice of doing rightly or wrongly.

Peter Kaminksy – The fly fisherman’s guide to the meaning of life

I stopped at my parents house on the New Line on my way to fishing, late in the evening. My father was there and he asked me how the fishing was and on my way out, fending off my children, he asked if I could bring him a fish. It was rare of him to ask me for anything. I was rushing of course and raising my voice out the door said I would drop him one on the way home. I drove for forty minutes geared up and walked another forty five. On the first cast a fish took my Bicouda stick, as it walked and swung in the horseshoe of current and shallow swirling tide. It was damp, misty overcast and beginning to rain. I killed the fish immediately and put him above the tide line in wet seaweed. Perfect eating size for two people tomorrow.

I continued to fish and to catch and release. On one occasion I looked to where I had placed the fish I had killed and could no longer locate it. I stopped fishing and went to check but could not find the fish. In one of those nonsense moments of rationalisation I reasoned the fish had flip flopped back into the tide. Unlikely but stranger things have happened. Two casts later I killed another fish and placed him above the tide line, dead this time. Five minutes later he was gone.

I had never seen any other person fishing at this location for many years, in fact I never saw any one at all down here. It was so prolific that I only fished at the times when I reasoned I would never see or meet anyone, wet and windy, foolishly believing that if I didn’t see anyone then it must be my sole preserve. My friend Paul was the only person I shared it with. I suspected he was behind the taking of the fish from the shore, it would be just like him, and he knew the timings too. I tried to find him hiding but as it darkened and cooled a little I realised what I already knew, it wasn’t him. I caught another fish, killed it and placed it on the beach and backed away, watching, I was beyond my kill limit now but I needed to understand.

Out of the darkening line of bank that ran along the shore of the estuary I saw an otter come towards the fish, pausing, standing, then dropping and running in that Loch Ness monster shape. It immediately picked up the fish, struggling a little but getting there, turned and carried it back towards the bank with some difficulty to its holt. He had taken three fish, I had none. He was better at this than I was! I caught and killed another fish.

My sum total of fish killed and taken that entire season, including whilst working with customers was eight. I had no problem doing this, its not why I fish for bass but it is certainly a part of it, it is a part of who I am. I can responsibly kill and eat a fish I catch when I chose. I learned quickly over a period of years that numbers of fish caught held no personal interest for me, (I can do this anytime and what am I catching them for?) The more I developed as a bass angler the more I wanted to level the playing field. I was never going to let advancing angling technology diminish the experience for me by decreasing the challenge of the activity. A catch and release ethos has always been central to my guiding services, killing of fish was actively discouraged on guided days, often to my detriment, but people always had freedom of choice.

Now that I am happy with my preferred technique, and after many years of work and investment and belief around good ‘angling ethics’ no matter how I deem the level of fairness I impart in the challenge with my adversary I cannot kill and eat him. It is illegal to do so.

Thursday, 21st December, 2017: The European Union has introduced new regulations for the Irish seabass recreational fishery, which will operate on a catch and release basis for 2018. This outcome is a result of successful negotiation by Minister for Agriculture Food and Marine, Michael Creed TD, at the Fisheries Council in Brussels last week where the initial proposal from Europe was for a complete ban on recreational fishing for six months and a catch and release fishery for six months.

Inland Fisheries Ireland now awaits updated Irish legislation from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to allow for the enforcement of a catch and release fishery in all areas of the country from January 1, 2018.

The new rule, which applies to Ireland, states: ‘In recreational fisheries, including from shore, in ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 7a to 7k, only catch-and-release fishing for European seabass shall be allowed. It shall be prohibited to retain on board, relocate, tranship or land European seabass caught in that area.’ The new regulation sees a consistent approach being applied throughout the Irish coastline’

Source – IFI

I am not quantified by killing fish, I am responsible in the numbers and size taken which is very very small, I work extremely hard to catch any bass with the technique I use. Deep within me, rooted in ways that have led me to believe and to sometimes feel that my fly rod is a spear that I must throw to impale a fish, I am inside what I am doing, fully experiencing it. However infrequently fortunate I am, my angling success always leads me to the choice of killing a fish or not, but its never ‘about’ the killing of fish. One general rule I have is that if I happen to hook a fish badly, or somehow the angling activity has killed the fish I always bring it home.

The activity of angling is itself very important, the ‘type‘ of angling activity is increasingly relevant and in a world seeking to satisfy its narcissistic self through constant promotion and achievement by using ever faster and efficient means to catch fish which challenge us less by achieving the ‘endgame’ much more easily, we move further away from any real and wider sense of value or satisfaction, we are losing a truer connection.

Bass angling activity is diminished the moment we seek validation and satisfaction through measurements that are related to catch and release only. There is so much more that we shouldn’t be afraid to allow ourselves experience and express.

Some of that should be a sense of dissatisfaction as to how, as anglers, the group whom have contributed the most to bass conservation, provided the greatest socio-economic benefits, who engage in an activity that creates a sense of ‘well-being’ – have we ended up in a situation where we seem to be on a path which could lead to a close of the recreational bass fishery?

As credible and fair bass anglers, denied the responsibility of choice through enforced catch and release we have thinking to do to save the fish certainly, however we need too to think of ourselves and our interaction with the environments where we conduct all the aspects of our angling.

We must make the best catch and release decisions we can with the fairest methods possible during 2018.


The European sea bass as we know is particularly vulnerable to overfishing and local population depletion due to various aspects of its biology:

  • They are slow growing and do not mature until they are approximately 31-35 cm in length for males and 40-45 cm for females.
  • It can take from 4 to 7 years to reach this size (they have been recorded up to 28 years of age).
  • Such slow maturing species are vulnerable to over-fishing as individuals may be caught before they can spawn;
  • They concentrate into specific areas at particular times of the year, making them easier to catch. For example, juvenile bass occupy defined nursery areas in estuaries whilst adults return to the same offshore spawning sites each year;
  • Individuals return to the same sites each year, meaning that local populations can more easily be depleted by fishing
  • Periods of low sea temperatures can kill large numbers of juvenile sea bass, making them particularly vulnerable in northern parts of their range
  • There is insufficient information on the state of the stock to fully evaluate its health, although some evidence points to a recent decline in the Northeast Atlantic.

Ireland has been at the forefront of bass fishing conservation in Europe since 1989 with a complete ban on commercial fishing combined with stringent recreational catch limits. This was previously combined with a permanent closed period of four weeks during May and June.

The International Council for the Exploration ofthe Sea (ICES), a scientific body that independently reviews fish stocks, assessed all the available evidence in October 2012. This indicated that in the Northeast Atlantic:

  • Sea bass stock had increased from the early 1990s to mid-2000s, possibly because of climate change-related increases in sea temperature;
  • Numbers of adult sea bass started to decline in the mid 2000s. This coincided with increased fishing; and a number of cold winters since 2008 may have killed a significant
    proportion of juvenile sea bass.
  • There is insufficient information on the state of the stock to fully evaluate its health, although some evidence points to a recent decline in the Northeast Atlantic.

ICES noted that this scenario, of increased fishing with a declining population,

“..would lead to an expectation of further decline in the Northeast Atlantic. However, ICES said it would have to undertake additional analysis to be able to give advice on population trends for sea bass. ICES advised that in 2013 there needed to be a 20% cut in the amount of sea bass caught in the Northeast Atlantic. It stated that because of the lack of evidence about the state of the stock, it considers that a precautionary reduction of catches should be implemented, unless there is ancillary information clearly indicating that the current exploitation is appropriate for the stock”

In June 2014, ICES examined the available evidence on sea bass stocks in the North Sea and English Channel, advising that a sea bass management plan was urgently needed to reduce the fish mortality. ICES advised that the implied total landings (commercial and recreational) should be no more than 1155 tonnes in 2015. In June 2015, ICES once again warned of depleting bass stocks, and advised that total landings (commercial and recreational) in 2016 should be no more than 541 tonnes in Central and South North Sea, Irish Sea, English Channel, Bristol Channel, Celtic Sea.

This is half the UK’s catch alone of 1,000 tonnes last year (2016).

There is no quota for sea bass set under the Common Fisheries Policy. There were unsuccessful negotiations to secure an agreement to tackle the decline in sea bass stocks at the 2014 Fisheries Council meeting. However, the UK Government did secure a commitment from the Commission to work with Member States to reduce fishing pressure at the start of the season in 2015.
Consequently, in 2015 a suite of emergency conservation measures were introduced to arrest the decline in sea bass stock.

2015 emergency sea bass conservation measures

A daily 3 fish bag limit per person for recreational anglers.
• Monthly catch limits for commercial fishing vessels.
• A ban on all EU commercial fishing in areas around Ireland, excluding the Bristol Channel and other areas inside the UK’s 12 mile zone.
• A minimum conservation reference size of 42cm to allow female fish to grow to spawning age

2016 further sea bass conservation measures

• A ban on commercial (pelagic) trawlers fishing for bass from 1 January 2016 to 30 June 2016 in
the English Channel and North Sea, except for:
─ Demersal trawls and seines are allowed to retain bycatches of sea bass that are not more than 1% of the weight of the total catches of marine organisms on board.
─ Hooks and lines and fixed gill nets which are permitted 1,300kg per vessel in January,
April, May and June (NB: this does not include drift net fisheries). The fishery is closed in February and March.
• From 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016 it shall be prohibited for vessels to fish quantities exceeding 1 tonne per any vessel per month of sea bass in the following areas:
─ ICES divisions IVb, IVc, VIId, VIIe VIIf and VIIh;
─ waters within 12 nautical miles from baseline under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom in ICES divisions VIIa and VIIg.

  • For recreational fishermen from 1 January to 30 June 2016 catch and release only permitted and
    from 1 July to 31 December 2016 one bass per fisherman per day in the English Channel, North
    Sea, Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean surrounding southern Ireland will be in place for 2016 (ICES
    divisions IVb, IVc, VIIa, VIId, VIIe, VIIf, VIIg, VIIh, VIIj and VIIk)

In case you haven’t heard the news, the EU Commission has proposed that the public should be banned from landing any bass  in 2018 and be restricted to Catch & Release only from July to December.  But at the same time, they are proposing that commercial hook & liners should be able to catch 4 tonnes a year – a “restriction” in name only, since it would only impact 1% of UK hook & line vessels (just 5 vessels).
Public anglers are the most sustainable stakeholders and deliver the greatest socio-economic benefits.  The EU Commission is proposing 900 tonnes of bass landings for 2018 – this should be allocated first to the public.
It is also disturbing that the EU Fisheries Ministers are considering “by-catch” allowances for commercial netters and bottom trawlers, despite the EU Commission proposing no by-catch allowances.  We have examined the UK landing data for 2017 and can see that many netters have been landing more than their legal limit and many have been having repeated catches with 90% – 100% bass.  So much for “by-catch only” for fixed netters in 2017!

Source – Saveourseabass 

If you want to get your voice heard and maintain the status of bass angling in this country that you want for 2018, please use the following and more, before Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th December, to express your opinions…

Josepha Madigan is Fine Gael Minister for Culture, Heritage & Gaeltacht. 




9 Braemor Road, Churchtown, Dublin 14

Michael Creed TD is the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Tel: (026) 41835

Fax: (026)41895



Shane Ross – Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport

Email: Minister@dttas or

Shane Ross, TD,
Leinster House,
Kildare Street,
Dublin 2
D02 A272

Tel: 01 604 1039


References & Source material

MMO, “Monthly sea fisheries statistics December 2014”, 27 February 2015

Responsible Sourcing Guide: Seabass Version 3, Seafish, February 2011, viewed 26
March 2013 3 Bass Management Plan

Bass Management Plan, Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society

Report of the Inter-Benchmark Protocol on New Species (Turbot and Seabass), ICES
Advisory Committee, 1-5 October 2012

ICES Advice for 2013 for European seabass in the Northeast Atlantic,,
September 2012

CES Advice for 2015 Celtic Sea and West of Scotland + North Sea European sea
bass in Divisions IVbc, VIIa, and VIId–h (Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, English Channel, and
southern North Sea)

ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas and Greater North
Sea Ecoregions, 30 June 2015

Defra, “New protections for sea bass”, 5 August 2015

Bass pre-December update Nov 18 – TOPFISHER.EU


Bass fishing conservation

As passionate bass fishermen, we should be equally as passionate about conserving and protecting the fisheries where we catch and experience the fishing. This may require a different thought process in relation to method time and even place. The video above demonstrates one mans passion to protect and conserve with the ability to adapt in a changing angling environment.

Now let me ask you a question – can you apply similar thinking to bass fishing? – think about it…..the same reason this man went swinging for steelhead is the same reason I started fly fishing for bass. We don’t, of course, all have to become saltwater fly fishermen but we can change a mindset, a strategy, a location, a technique.


I believe that bass fishing is about coastal experiences. So much of the fish is about the places where we find them. The things we see hear and smell on the way, there and back. The moments, the company, the fun, the challenges we face, the learning, the environments within which we find ourselves trying and reaching further, creating the memories and some of the understanding we now have that the fish and the fishing has given us.

The change in my fishing was borne of circumstances beyond my control and beyond the parameters of how I felt I could run my bass angling guiding business. I will no longer continue to guide for bass and seatrout fishing for many reasons but I am happy now to mostly spend my time on the coast with personal saltwater fly fishing in mind. This decision has not been easy, but at this time there are simply too many circumstances and aspects that currently exist in Irish bass fishing that make the change one that I am very happy to have made. This change has also allowed me time for considerable reflection.

Taken from my ABOUT page

I dreamed of this once…

thinking long term

bass fishing Jim Hendrick

One of the big challenges is to get people to see the difference between the abstract goal of sustainability and taking responsibility for specific issues in specific places.

Prof Harold Goodwin


Denmark recently changed its rather strict regulation of coastal areas to facilitate development of “sustainable” tourism facilities. In your view, does the new regulation do justice to the holistic understanding of “sustainable tourism” as used in academia?

Denmark’s coastlines have been protected from tourism development and construction for more than 80 years. In 2014, the Danish politicians opened up for softer regulation of the coastlines and invited proposals for tourism development projects within the hitherto protected coastal zone.

The call explicitly requested nominations for sustainable tourism projects, but our comparison between academic sustainability discourse and the approved projects suggests that tourism actors do not address sustainable tourism development as a holistic concept.

Moreover, our research has documented how long-term perspectives are largely absent, whereas economic benefits are emphasized.

Interview: Janne Liburd on Tourism Education and the Sustainable Development of the Wadden Sea National Park, Denmark