Boat Angling

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American Lobsters – Retain and Report

Cefas have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the threat to our lobsters from the non-native species of lobster, the American lobster. This Defra-funded initiative encourages fishers and others to “retain and report” any American lobsters that they capture, to measure and reduce impacts they are having in our marine environment.

(see identification chart below)

American lobsters have been imported to the UK since the late 1950s for consumption in restaurants and homes.  American lobsters tend to grow to larger sizes than European lobster, have a larger dietary range, are more tolerant of different habitats, are more aggressive and produce more eggs than European lobsters. This means they are at a competitive advantage over the native species. American lobsters might also carry the bacterial disease, Gaffkaemia, or Epizootic Shell Disease. Transferring these diseases to native stocks could result in major economic losses to fishers. There is also a risk of American lobsters bringing other non-native species to our waters, such as barnacles and other small invertebrates which have attached themselves to the lobster.

The campaign aims to engage with lobster fishers explaining the legal position, how to identify an American lobster, the risks posed by the animals and the importance of retaining and reporting them to their local fisheries officers at the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) or Marine Management Organisation (MMO). Knowingly releasing a non-native species to the wild is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, including returning one to the sea at point of capture.

The project lead at Cefas, Debbie Murphy, said “This a great opportunity for us to work with industry to gain information about whether these animals are affecting their fishery or not. By collecting this data Defra will be in a stronger position to make informed decisions regarding policy, and able to work to protect both the trade in American lobsters and wild stocks of European lobsters”.

Reports of American lobsters caught in our waters have historically been in low numbers and generally single animals, contributed to by escapes from holding tanks or releases by well-meaning members of the public or religious groups. The biggest contributor to American lobsters in English waters was a mass-release in June 2015 of 361 specimens off Brighton by Buddhist monks as part of their religious practice known as ‘fang sheng.’ In the months following this release, 136 American lobsters were removed from the sea in the surrounding area making up a large proportion of the 149 American lobsters reported from 2012 to 2018.

Almost 5 years on from the mass release and with less than half of the American lobsters having been reported as recaptured, Defra are keen to know what impact the animals may have had.

Posters and leaflets designed to help fishers understand the key features commonly associated with American lobster compared to European lobster, along with contact details to report suspected American lobsters have been produced by Cefas and are available on the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat website. Similar campaigns are planned in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in 2020.

American lobster identification

It’s time to check your lifejacket

If you have lots of money you can send all your lifejackets away to be checked and serviced. Or, if like me you don’t have lots of money you can do a check yourself. It is surprising how quickly time passes, and lifejackets should be checked annually. I make a point of doing the checks between Christmas and New Year when I have a bit more time on my hands and I’m usually at home instead of fishing. That way I remember to do the checks every 12 months!

This year the checks were a reminder why they are important, because they showed up a couple of potentially serious problems. It may be a cliche but lifejackets are there to save your life and if they don’t work when they are needed, then you can drown – simple as that. So it’s worth a few minutes doing these simple checks.

Step 1. Visually check the externals of tyhe lifejacket for wear, tears, fraying, harness attachments etc. If there is damage then repair is probably out of our capability so it is best to send them away for servicing. If all good, then carry on.

Step 2. Unwrap the lifejacket, usually there is a velcro or zip fastener. Use the top-up pipe to inflate the lifejacket to a firm consistency. Leave the lifejacket blown up for 24 hours. Meanwhile, do Steps 3 to 5.

Step 3. Check the condition of the cylinder, if you can see it. If it is corroded, replace it – like mine below.

Corroded cylinder

Step 4. Check any expiry dates or indicators on the automatic firing mechanism if fitted. On the Spinlock 5D above there is a Replace-By date on the firing mechanism, and coloured indicators on the body. My Crewfit lifejacket below has a Hammar mechanism. All good in this case.

Firing mechanism

Step 5. Check any other features such as spray hood and light. This was another fault on my lifejacket – the light wasn’t working. It is a sealed unit so it has to be replaced.

Step 6. After 24 hours, check that the lifejacket is still inflated and as firm as it was when first inflated. If so, all is good. If not, you have a leak. Check the seating and O ring of the firing mechanism, it could be that. If it is, replace the O ring or tighten up the mounting and leave for another 24 hours to check. If that is not the cause, the lifejacket needs to go away for professional servicing.

When you have completed all the checks and replaced anything that needs replacing, your lifejacket can be repacked and put back in use for another 12 months, ready to save a life.

Bass Fishing Limits 2020

The EU Fisheries Ministers have announced an agreement for recreational angling bass limits for 2020. Briefly, rules are different for North Atlantic (that’s us) and South Atlantic.

In our waters, we can retain up to two bass per angler per day between 1st March and 30th November. The MLS of 42cm still applies. Outside these dates it is Catch and Release only.

This is an improvement on the 2019 restriction of one fish per day between 1st April and 31st October.

SMAC Open Boat Cod Competion 2019

(pictured – previous winner Tim Andrews )

The 3rd Open Boat Cod Competition will be held on 17th November from Southsea Marina (reserve dates will be 24th November, 1st, 8th, 15th 22nd December)

Entry Fee £10. Sign in at the Marina Office.

Fishing from 08:00 to 16:00. Weigh-In by 17:30. Presentation in the Marina Bar at 18:00

First Prize £500 – heaviest cod

Second prize and prize table to be announced.

Other prizes:

Ladies Prize £50

Junior (under 16) prize £50

Heaviest whiting if there are not enough cod to cover the prize list.

For further details please contact Steve Kelly on 07790 584698 or stevek@premiermarinas.com

For information about arriving at Southsea Marina from the sea – follow this link

Here is Dick Prosser – winner of the first Open Boat Cod Competion held in January 2018

Dick Prosser

Gee Pro Bond Reviewed

You may know Blue Gee from their GRP and Carbon boatbuilding and repair products. They recently launched a new two-part adhesive called Gee Pro Bond and I obtained a review sample to evaluate.

Initially this looks a lot like an epoxy, but it isn’t. It comes in a 25ml pack which is a double-barrelled syringe and two mixer nozzles. The bond and hardener are mixed with a 1:1 ratio so you can mix from the tube, but the mixer nozzle makes it a whole lot easier if you are bonding a larger area. You only get two nozzles, and they look well made so I expect supplying more would make the pack more expensive.

The best feature (apart from the bonding) is the cure time. It has a five-minute work time so you have to move fast, but it cures in 10 minutes. This makes it very useful when you need to get something fixed and can’t afford to hang around for the longer cure times of epoxy adhesives.

Most metals can be bonded without any pre-treatment. You can bond plastics, ABS, acrylics, vinyl, PVC, polycarbonates, composites, epoxy laminates, GRP polyester / vinyl ester and gelcoats. It is not suitable for polyolefins, thermoplastic polyesters, fluorocarbon plastics and other low surface energy plastics as they are generally not bondable with anything. It is also not good for wood unless the wood has already had an epoxy coating.

I have often thought that we don’t use specialist adhesives enough in boatbuilding and maintenance. One common challenge is fixing fittings to a GRP skin – either an internal moulding or the hull itself. With this adhesive you can bond a countersunk bolt head to the GRP surface leaving the thread sticking up looking like a stud, and simply bolt the fitting to the thread.  I tested this idea with an extending arm to hold my iPad. I didn’t want to drill through the bulkhead so I simply bonded a bolt to the GRP. A single bolt was able to support the iPad, on an arm extended about 200mm is some choppy sea conditions where the strength of the bond was severely tested. It came through rock solid.

I also made up some test pieces for destruction testing. As expected, wood on wood and wood on GRP held, but without strength. It would probably be OK for cosmetic applications but not where strength is required. Much more impressive were the metal to GRP tests and plastic/GRP to GRP – these stood up to considerable force and the plastic to GRP bond never failed – the GRP itself delaminated before the bond broke.

In conclusion, this is a useful adhesive for specific, high strength quick cure applications. Details here:

What happens if you don’t take your boat out fishing

This is what happens if continued bad weather keeps boats tied up on the pontoon instead of getting a good salty soaking out fishing. Seen in Southsea Marina recently, mushrooms sprouting from the cockpit! We need to get out there, people…

Forever By The Sea Tributes

If you have lost a loved one or friend who loved the sea, there is a very fitting way of setting up a website to collect and share memories and photographs. The RNLI have a free-to-use tribute portal called “Forever By The Sea”. All you need to do is visit this RNLI page and ask via their page for a tribute to be set up. There is no obligation to collect funds but people will probably want to donate something anyway. It is all in a very good cause and there is something lasting to share, visit and revisit.

Forever By The Sea Tribute Fund

SMAC Open Cod Competition Results!

Finally…we had the competition on 30th December after week upon week of postponements due to the weather (seven times because the day before Christmas Eve was never going to make us popular). We even had a few settled days beforehand to get into the swing of things after two months of being stuck ashore. Although overcast, visibility was good, it wasn’t too cold and a slight westerly breeze gave us plenty of options.

A total of 102 anglers signed in, with 45 boats mostly heading out from Southsea Marina, the Eastney ramp or ECA. After hearing a bit of chat on VHF it appeared that more fish were being caught inside the Nab rather than further out. Weigh-in was 4.30pm so most of us were back in our berths by dusk, waiting to see if this years’ results would be better than last. Although the winning cod wasn’t as big as last year we were pleased that five cod weighed in (only two in the 2017 competition) and we had the main prizes awarded to cod with a number of good whiting as runners-up.

The winner was Tim Andrews, our SMAC Commodore with a cod of 9lb 2oz. Tim would usually hand out the prizes but as he was a recipient this time, yours truly didn’t duck fast enough and had the honour of handing out the prizes and congratulating the winners.

There were also prizes for Ladies, won by Hayley Ellis and a Junior prize won by Michael Houghton.

Hayley Ellis fishing from Miss Molly
Michael Houghton Junior Prize Winner

Other winners were as follows:

2nd: Ken Barton cod 8lb 14oz
3rd: Tom Baker cod 4lb 9oz
4th: Bradley Tomkinson cod 4lb 7oz
5th: Dean Kilford cod 3lb 10oz
6th Pete Bowden whiting 3.76lb
7th: Darren Price whiting 3.24lb
8th: Kim Bowden whiting 2.38lb
9th: Germit Ladaher whiting 2.16lb
10th: Bernie Kwil whiting 2.06lb
11th: Steve Manning whiting 1.94lb
12th: Dick Stubbs whiting 1.92lb
13th: Tim Ward whiting 1.78lb

We are very grateful for the support and prizes from the following: Portsmouth Marine Training; Allan’s Marine; Solent Truck Parts; Barden UK; Premier Marinas, The Marina Bar and Cafe; Pete Kilshaw (Sportsmans Knight); Adam Houghton (Anglers Edge); Baits ‘R Us; Lock Stock and Tackle.

The entire event would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment from SMAC Chairman Steve Kelly who made sure 102 anglers had a great day. Thanks again Steve.

PS Thanks to Steve Andrews for taking the photos!

Bass Limits 2019

Today the EU Council announced an agreement on the  2019 catch limits for commercial fish stocks. The agreement was based on their commitment to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP): environmental, economic and social sustainability.

For bass anglers, the main change is that we have a limit of 1 bass per angler per day from 1st April to 31st October. Any fish caught above the limit during that period must be returned unharmed and any bass caught outside the limit must also be returned. No bass may be retained under the MLS.

We had hoped that bass would be further protected by a proposed increase in the restriction on the fixed netter’s daily catch limited. However our own Fisheries  Minister, George Eustice, and Defra completely rejected this. For the third year running, the UK has agreed to unenforceable ‘unavoidable bycatch’ restrictions for fixed netting.  We think that the UK Government has taken a disgraceful position on this.

Here is the link to more detail

Save Our Sea Bass Campaign Group

Information on the Save our Sea Bass campaigning group.

What is the value of Sea Bass?

Our natural wild Sea Bass is priceless and irreplaceable. But it has been over-exploited by commercial fishing for short-term profits. We need to radically overhaul the Sea Bass Fishery to maximise the environmental, social and economic benefits to Society as a whole.

We are running out of time to prevent a complete collapse of the Sea Bass stock. Immediate action is essential if we want to save the Sea Bass stock for future generations, as well as a long term management plan to ensure the current over-fishing is never repeated.

Who are Save Our Sea Bass?

We are a team of unpaid volunteers who are using the internet and social media to raise awareness of the drastic state of the Sea Bass stock and to help other concerned individuals to get their voices heard by the decision-makers in the UK and across Europe. A number of us are members of the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS) and this website is funded by BASS.

What is Save Our Sea Bass working on now?

In response to the June 2016 ICES assessment, recommending a zero Sea Bass catch in 2017, Save Our Sea Bass has launched a new campaign to restrict the Sea Bass Fishery to sustainable fishing methods only (i.e. Hook & Line – no long-lining and no netting), carried out at sustainable levels.

Who else is speaking out for Sea Bass?

Save Our Sea Bass is working with a number of other bodies seeking a sustainable bass fishery.

BASS has been researching and promoting bass stock conservation since 1973.

The Angling Trust and the European Anglers Association are lobbying Fisheries politicians and Fishery managers in the UK and in Brussels.

The New Economics Foundation is demonstrating the economic case for fishing bass sustainably.

The Blue Marine Foundation is encouraging stakeholders and Fishery managers to work together to find a solution.

The Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers, Labrax squad, and Irish Bass are angling organisations fighting for sustainable bass fishing

Further information

SOSB is at the heart of the debate on the state and future of Sea Bass and is a first port of call for those interested in understanding the Sea Bass problem.

We provide briefings, updates, interviews, articles, photos and videos to assist journalists, media and other parties researching the Sea Bass issue.

Please get in touch with us at: info@saveourseabass.org

For further information see: Previous Press Releases

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