independent

Friday 17 August 2018

Rosslare Small Boats Festival boost to local economy

Rosslare Small Boats Festival winners (from left): John Belger (UK organiser), Steve Mills, Steve Arnold, Wesley Lewis ('Even Less' boat) and Josie Mahon (Inland Fisheries Ireland).
Rosslare Small Boats Festival winners (from left): John Belger (UK organiser), Steve Mills, Steve Arnold, Wesley Lewis ('Even Less' boat) and Josie Mahon (Inland Fisheries Ireland).

By David tucker

The recent 32nd Rosslare Small Boats Festival attracted more than 120 anglers from Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Wight, Ireland and many parts of England, including Manchester, Liverpool and Portsmouth, the event providing a major boost to the local economy.

Sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland, Garmin, DAIWA and Sea Angler magazine, the prestigious competition generated in the region of €300,000 locally, bringing jobs and employment to Wexford and for the first time in eight years produced a new winner.

The English boat 'Even Less' from Gosport and District Angling club in Portsmouth won the competition for the first time. The crew of Wesley Lewis, Steve Mills and Steve Arnold beat 40 boats from Britain and Ireland, catching 22 different species of fish weighing in at 13.7 kg.

During the week, weather conditions were very challenging with strong south westerly winds delaying the start of the competition.

The Rosslare small boats festival committee, in tandem with the harbour master's office in Wexford County Council, worked tirelessly to enable boats to be launched during short windows of weather which brought some relief from the windy conditions.

Redmond's The Bay, was the centre of the competition where competitors met each evening to discuss their catches and make plans for the following day.

Inland Fisheries Ireland staff was present at the event with a marine fish tank for the purpose of displaying fish species that were caught during the competition and identifying them for the public.

The educational benefits of the marine tank and practising catch and release for marine species are hugely beneficial in terms of conservation and creating public awareness of Ireland's marine resource. Indeed, a new conservation initiative was introduced this year to encourage anglers to catch, photograph and release smoothounds and spurdogs which proved to be very successful.

The high standard competition, combined with a quality angling product, continues to attract the best boat anglers in Great Britain and Ireland in what is now regarded as the best small boat fishing competition in Europe.

There were 10 new boats to the competition this year from all over the UK while there were two specimen fish caught during the week, the largest of which was a Ballan Wrasse of 2.3 kg caught by Bill Walker on board the boat 'Outcast'.

The prizegiving night took place in Rosslare Harbour Hotel where there were prizes worth in the region of €30,000 including fishing equipment, cash prizes and engraved trophies.

Wexford Mayor, Cllr Jim Moore, the festival's special guest, said: the small festival was a wonderful achievement 'and we are delighted that you come to Wexford to fish'.

The 33rd Rosslare Small Boats Festival is scheduled to take place from September 8 to 15, 2018. All small boat anglers are invited to take part. Visit: www.rosslaresmallboatsfestival.com or www.facebook.com/groups/rosslaresmallboats for further information.

Wexford People

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