Holiday Fisherman Gets Ill
A Great Holiday Pretending To Be A Fisherman
Marine Times Newspaper.
Whilst many like to get away with their families on a summer holiday to some exotic location, my holiday is spent in Donegal pretending to live the life of a fisherman. I am an angler really, but like to hunt for fish and to keep aware of the enveloping environment around about. The weather, the tides, the swell the cloud state the wind all can be used to add memories of fishing whether it be from a boat, from the rocks, a pier or in lake or stream. Arguably we learn more about fishing when we catch nothing as when we do.
Donegal offers more than the opportunity to fish; just as well, because it allows me to pursue my passion for fishing with that of sharing a holiday with the rest of the family. We all enjoy the surroundings of tide, beach, mountains, weather and all that the land has to offer in beauty and ambience and the friendly people. All this adds up to a fantastic holiday which extracts comments like where did you get that tan, and “your wife and children all look so well”.
There is indeed much more to it than the fish but it is the fish that gives it all a focus, even on the beach. A good deal of time is spent trying to catch shrimps, crabs and small flatties for the bucket all to be released. I get my opportunity to sneak off to catch something for supper. Maybe a mackerel maybe a pollock if they are big enough. If I am really lucky I get time to go after trout and salmon or get out in the boat for a while.
This year I had a go at some local mussels collected at low tide. Consequently a whole day was spent on the toilet which was extremely devastating. It was a disappointment to learn from this bitter experience that the mussels were polluted enough to cause severe illness. I discussed this with a local who reckoned “you were lucky they didn’t kill you” as confirmation of the fact that a “pristine” western Atlantic shore was polluted and not as pristine as it seemed.
As part of pretending to be a fisherman I read the local fishing press and was horrified to read of the devastating pollution experienced around Donegal Bay in June July and the suggestion that this was caused by a red tide or worse, by something much more sinister. It is disturbing to think that such a wonderful environment is threatened by pollution and I hope that the source or cause of all this can be righted soon. The fact that we were in a pristine estuary on the edge of a pristine Atlantic Ocean makes it all the worse to bear when there are so few places which are aesthetically ecologically, environmentally and economically healthy. We all have a responsibility protect our bountiful natural resources and the communities that these support.
The fishing industry has real economic European and global challenges but surely a key responsibility often overlooked in the drive for profits and survival is sustainability and responsibility for the future.
There is a lot of talk about the plight of the fishing industry, decommissioning, quotas the impact of over fishing, foreign vessels and the plight of local communities, and rightly so.
However the pollution incident reflects the lack of environmental protection given to the sumptuous value of the Atlantic Ocean and its coastline and estuaries.
Other danger signs of pollution and careless non sustainable practice include stories about lack of lugworm, redundant oyster beds, a scum on the Atlantic shore, many many small pollock from the rocks without one big enough to eat and reports of excessive prawn exploitation from the shore. One magazine discussed the impact the poachers can have on salmon stocks in contrast to the impact of netsmen.
If such environmental degradation goes unchecked what hope is there for future progress on fish stocks and its sustainable industries whether commercial or recreational. There have been tremendous moves to try and improve fish stocks but allowing pollution to spoil our Atlantic heritage will hardly improve things. I hope that the appropriate responses are forthcoming and that environmental protection can contribute significantly to supporting the mighty abundance still hanging on in Donegal.