Hopefully the new web-page design will allow you to search our archives and investigate our databases in an easier than ever manner. Browse around, the benefits should be obvious. At least - they will be when we get the bugs out! Give it time, remember that Wapping wasn't built in a day. Or was that Romford?

The past month or so has been a very busy one. The 'Grab your Tackle' calendar project took us all by storm. It was a lot of work but a load of fun too, especially when it came to entertaining the competition winners and pin-ups. The whole gang got in on the act and I think we were banned from that restaurant in the end. Oh well.

At least the barbel have been feeding well over the last month. This is reflected in this months copy by a myriad of articles all devoted to the species. Perhaps my recent first ever capture of a twelve pounder had something to do with this and perhaps not. For those of you who think we are a little 'barbel heavy' in our coarse articles this month, all I can say is… Tough! (Ahh, power!).

Our top travelling angling writer John Cooper has slipped off his perch and done his back in whilst boating in the Solent. See what happens when you muck about in boats? Hope you get well soon John. He's a very brainy guy y'know. And extremely edumicated. It's true. You ask him. He was complaining to me the other day about the lack of 'quality writing' in the angling press. I have to admit he did have a point. But we can't all be clever can we?

Or perhaps we can.

There has been a bit of a fad within my social circle in recent years of the 'self-improvement' type. One of my neighbours, Chas for instance. He actually gave up his position in the local match team in order to notch up a part-time Phd in history. Sid, another comrade of the angle who lives in a bivvy Monday to Friday and sells the Big Issue at weekends, has also just finished an ecology degree. I was lucky enough to have a shufty through a couple of his university textbooks recently and found some interesting fishing facts there that I thought I might pass on.

Right. Question time. What is the most expensive fish * in the world ?

Well, and many of the guys on the local carp lake might argue with this - and if you add up their tackle costs and compare it to the lbs of fish they catch , they might have a point - but it is in fact, the Bluefin Tuna. (This is according to the academic world) An individual fish of this particular species can be worth - are you ready for this? No. You won't believe it. Oh all right then, try eighty thousand American dollars. For one fish. And that's at the 1996 price of $265 kilo. It might even be more now for all I know. Why? Supply and demand. The forces of commerce, otherwise known as greed. Not really surprising this, but the Bluefin Tuna stocks have dropped by 90% in the Gulf of Mexico since 1975 and by 80% in the Atlantic since 1970. As the numbers of the fish decrease so the price of the fish increases, so making it more desirable. Little wonder then that the worlds fishing fleets doubled in the period 1970 - 1990 and may well have doubled again since then.

Now consider this. Just one modern mid-water trawler has a net big enough to entangle a dozen 747 jet aircraft. Long lines may extend for 125 kilometres. How many 1000's of hooks that is I don't have a clue. I'm not that clever. But what I am clever enough to work out is, that as at least 25% of the total catch is unwanted, accidental or immature capture (what the commercial fishing world calls 'by-catch' ) there is an awesome amount of waste and destruction. An amount which is growing at a phenomenal rate every year. There are no 'fields left fallow' on the worlds oceans. The fishing grounds are raped until they are exhausted then the fleets move on to pastures new.

The immense amount of overfishing world-wide means that every year there are less fish. Therefor next years fish will command a higher market price, which will mean they are more desirable, so more fishing fleets will be launched. This tail-chasing display shows no sign of easing and reminds me of something that my Dad always used to hammer home. Something about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing Thank God that the commercial fishing industry is controlled by sensible, intelligent men who realise that it is in their own interest to conserve the fish and not wipe them out. It is controlled by people like that isn't it? I mean, they must be clever or they wouldn't be in that position of power. Aren't they?

Oh.

What chance then have we anglers got for the future of our sport? Against a world where an individual fish can command the price of a family home and greed is the only consideration? A sobering thought. I don't know what to do about it. I'm not that clever. Answers on a postcard, or email please.

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* Other than koi - I heard that in Japan a koi changed hands for a quarter million recently. Makes me wonder what that 10lber in the local lake might be worth!!