Browsing Irish Fisheries Investigations by Author "Shaw, U."
Observations on the status of bass Dicentrarchus Labrax stocks in Ireland in the late 1990sFahy, E.; Forrest, N.; Shaw, U.; Green, P. (Marine Institute, 2000)Investigative work was undertaken in 1996 to ascertain the strength of sea bass stocks following the introduction of a range of conservation measures which effectively extinguished the legitimate commercial fishery for the species. Information was sought from two sources: estimation of the age composition of the samples and the growth of bass by examining scales from exploited fish. An estimate of the density of juvenile pre-recruit bass was made from a seine net survey undertaken in various estuaries along the south coast. Scales sent in by anglers and obtained through the regional boards from illegally netted fish indicate that a high proportion of bass landed between 1996 and 1998 belonged to the 1989-year class, which had been reported to be exceptionally large in Britain. Back-calculations of length-at-age from the scales of these and seine-netted bass suggested that growth improved in the later 1980s in response to higher sea temperatures but has since declined. Work on an index of juvenile abundance began with 59 seine net hauls made in August 1996 and 1997. On these the areas most likely to support bass were characterised; O-group bass were encountered more frequently than any other age group. Sites most likely to support bass were mud flats overlaid with shallow and still water which had a salinity range of 17 to 22% and bass were associated with certain species of estuarine fish and crustaceans; bass were negatively associated with other species occupying the deeper and more sandy parts of estuaries. Sampling stations for O-group bass have been selected in Youghal Harbour and Wexford Harbour. Further exploratory work is required to extend the list of stations. It was concluded that there has been a temporary increase in the numbers of sea bass, as has been reported by fishermen in Ireland, as a result of more favourable temperatures in the late 1980s. Growing conditions appeared to have deteriorated in the later 1990s and the summer growth ofO-group bass was the weakest in 1999 over the 4 years investigated. A time series of O-group abundance is too brief to permit any conclusions to be reached. However, it can be stated that the recorded densities of juvenile bass between 1996 and 1999 were sparser than would be expected in south east Ireland in view of the supposed heavy winter concentrations of the species in the Celtic Sea.