I an talking on the protection of our rag stocks tomorrow .Hear is my speech John Quinlan from Irish bass will be their flying the flag for the bass fight.
Spawning rag-can we help
Our stocks of rag worm have been spawning since November and are normally finished by the middle of march ,this wonder of nature is something i have grown up with .
My father Liam Tilly has harvested rag from the Dublin area for the last 60 years and at the age 75 he still is well able to dig 5or 6 hundred rag if it is needed during our busy times.From his years of gathering and looking after bait he has learned from nature when is the right tine to harvest natures bounty, and as she signals a change when it is time to stop.
From his early years of digging,when the stocks of rag worm in Dublin were much bigger he noticed the demand for rag was less in the winter and this was down to their was less anglers fishing at this time and the rag were spawning and were no good for bait.
The anglers knew this, the bait diggers knew this so the self inflicted ban on digging rag worm came in to place no science no government body's saying stop just level thinking people seeing what nature was doing and giving her a helping hand.One of my fathers Favorited sayings is don't, kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The anglers[Irish Federation of sea anglers] took this a step further and banned the use of rag worm from 31of October to saint Patricks day in the Dublin area.In the UK their are places wear the digging of rag goes on all year around and a lot of these places are now baron of all marine life.
The rag live in nearly every type of ground and this in my mind is what has saved them,in Dublin their are places that it is impossible to dig either stones or glue like mud and these areas are the ones that stock the places that get used for commercial bait digging year in year out .One such place was under treat from land fill it is a mussel bank right in the center of the 42 acres that Dublin port tyred to get planning for to reclaim this land and extend the port.Luck and hard work by all who fought to stop this saved the stocks of rag for the next generation of anglers to enjoy.The other winners are the winter migrating birds,and the millions of gulls that feed on the rag that have spawned and then die.
The life cycle of the rag is another great journey just like our great salmon,they start this wrapped in a little green sack the females start laying these around December and keep this up till the end of February the sacks attach them selves to weed rocks and anything that is solid on the bottom.
Then the magic the right tides,weather,and things that we know little about happen and the large male rag come up out of the ground and spree melt into the tide this is a sight to behold.The water turns a pale color as the melt mixes with it, some of these rag can be as big as 60 cm long it is like watching green snakes swimming in big groups spreading their seed ,I do often wonder is this what gave rise to the mitt that Saint Patrick banished the snakes out of Ireland.
The large rag then die and cause a feast for the birds of the estuaries for some this is the last feast they have before leaving our shores .
The rag in their little sacks then start to grow they use photosynthesis to help at this stage and when they are big enough they leave their green home around the time of the early summer gales and get washed in shore in shore with the weed and kelp that gets wrenched from the rocks during these storms.In some places this mass of rotting life source can be 1 to 2 meters deep, and our Minuit rag are thriving in this and as the season roils on the rag take to the water in huge numbers and swim out in to our estuaries and in lets to make a home for themselves The favored ground in Dublin is mussel beads as rag are carnivores they move in to mussel shells and feed on the mussel till it dies,on like the pea crab that lives in harmony with the mussel but that's another story.
When the rag get to this stage they burrow in under the mussel beds and spend the rest of their days their.Till it is time for them to give up their lives to start the new life cycle of the rag worm.
In our bait business i try to use all the wonders my father has passed on to me and carry out my work in a sustainable way in areas were their is mussel growing i will remove the mussel to a baron patch and then dig my bait.We in http://celticguidedfishing.blogspot.com/ want to be hear for the next 50 years and have the same resource as my father had,
In the timer we live in we need to look after what we have and the cowboys who think of short term gain need to be stooped .As each green rag that is killed in the winter or spawning time is 1000 rag lost for the next years stock.So in the areas we can protect the SSIAs the rangers need to be given more powers and their needs to be a licence issued for the commercial harvesting of our golden egg the rag worm.Other wise we will be like the UK with harbors empty of what was a great resource,they now have not got enough wild rag that they have started to grow their rag to keep up with demand for bait for the biggest recreational sport in the UK and IRELAND.
The time is now we need to educate people as to what they are doing and stop the cowboys .