The spannish do things differently!

21 Mar

Having recently returned from a holiday in Spain, I was surprised by our Governments reaction to the threat of Coronavirus and how it differed from the Spanish. In the hotel my wife and I were staying in we woke up last Sunday morning (15th March) to find the pool and the spa taped off and closed. This was quickly followed by the removal of all of the sun beds and sun shades. A note “decree of state of alarm” was then posted in public areas saying that there was a comprehensive ban on all games including mini golf, boules, table tennis and darts would you believe. We were also informed that we could only leave the hotel grounds to go to the supermarket or pharmacy and if we did go then you could only go singularly. Why you may ask? Because it only takes one person to get the shopping, simple really. If by necessity two of you had to go somewhere urgent then you had to go in separate taxis.

So for 4 miserable days we were virtually confined to our balcony while the local “policia” patrolled the promenade outside the hotel on their motorbikes hoping to catch anyone who just fancied going for a walk. And there were a few, usual suspects I suppose showing a stiff upper lip with a touch of the Dunkirk spirit. They were not out long!!

So while this was going on the hotel decided to close and started stripping out and storing everything away. At one stage we began to worry about leaving our room in case the bed went missing when we were out! They did feed us however.

So whats this to do with fishing? Well in the local press three rod anglers were reported to have been caught fishing a local reservoir and for their transgression in breaking the “state of alarm” they were each fined over 600 euros.

The spannish in the main do like to abide by the rules.

These are uncertain times indeed. Stay safe!

State of North Atlantic Salmon?

4 Mar

The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) have recently published the first ever State of North Atlantic Salmon Report to raise awareness about the state of Atlantic salmon stocks during the International Year of the Salmon.

The report highlights that Atlantic salmon are a species in crisis. “These are challenging times for wild Atlantic salmon. Abundance remains low, or even critically low in some areas.  In these circumstances, our focus must be on those factors which we are able to control.”  Joannes Hansen President NASCO.

You can read the report via the link below.


Google goes fishing?

3 Mar

The advanced research lab at Google’s parent company Alphabet, is taking aim at an unlikely new target for its technologies: fish. 

In an attempt to boost the use of fish farms, and reduce the world’s consumption of wild fish and meat, Alphabet’s X Development  has invented a system that will eventually recognise and monitor every individual fish in farms that hold hundreds of thousands. 

The three-year-old project, dubbed Tidal, is working with farms in Europe and Asia. It pairs underwater cameras with AI techniques such as computer vision to track species including salmon and yellowtail. 

The hope, according to Astro Teller, the director of X, is to reduce the world’s dependence on  land-based proteins, such as beef, and to free the oceans from damaging fishing practices. 

The oceans are falling apart thanks to us, thanks to humanity. So something has to change,” he said, discussing Tidal publicly for the first time. “No more [eating] fish isn’t really on the cards any time soon. What can we do to make it as good for the planet as possible?”

Grace Young, a research engineer on Tidal, added: “Developing technology for the underwater environment is really hard: it’s dark, it’s cold, it’s unforgiving, saltwater kills electronics, the pressure is crushing, the temperature can shift from above boiling to below freezing in a matter of minutes.” 

The team of around a dozen X staff had to build a fresh data set of fish to train its algorithms, initially by filming in a paddling pool at its Silicon Valley headquarters. Its stereo camera rig, which is lowered into a farming enclosure, is able to track fish through their development, using their particular shapes and movements. 

Some of these signals are happening in milliseconds,” said Neil Davé, who leads the Tidal project. “You’d be unable to see it with the human eye.”

Data and insights collected from Tidal’s system are sent to farmers to help them optimise feeding, reduce waste and maintain healthy fish, in the hopes of easing some environmentalists’ concerns about overuse of antibiotics. 

Really what we are hoping to do is provide these tools to farmers so that they can move their operations towards more sustainability,” said Mr Davé. “There may be an opportunity there to relieve some pressure on wild fishing if we made aquaculture very compelling from an operational and environmental perspective.” 

The sensors Tidal develops for fishing could also be used for more general ocean monitoring, where researchers often struggle to keep track of endangered species such as whales and  penguins in the wild. 

The research team formerly known as Google X is best known for its work on self-driving cars, internet balloons and delivery drones. 

Is total catch and release inevitable?

24 Feb

In 2019 Tweed rods released back into the river 86% of what they caught, but killed nearly 900 salmon (14% of 6382).

The Garda netting station, operating at the harbour mouth killed 336 salmon well below the 2018 figure of 485.

So with the closing of all drift nets and severe restrictions being placed on the remaining operating T&J nets, where all netted salmon have to be returned. Probably, for the very first time northern rod anglers in season 2019 killed more salmon than the nets.

In other words, the rods have now become by far one of the biggest predators of adult salmon in this region.

Some will argue, particularly nets men and the legislators that this does not sit well with the nets having given up their livelihoods, whilst their main voluble critics the rods carry on killing salmon as before.

This some what self centred approach raises the question as to why there are as yet no restrictions on killing salmon, particularly autumn fish whose numbers seem to have collapsed.

There are no easy answers here, individual views will be many and varied but it does suggest that many rod anglers have not yet got the message that “migratory fish stocks are in a perilous state” and killing them will only invite draconian controls that will satisfy no one.

The future of the sport is at risk and everyone connected with it needs to get on board and put conservation before self satisfaction otherwise in five years time game angling may no longer exist as we know it today.