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Angling Trust Urges European Commission To Stand Firm And Introduce Emergency Bass Measures Now

21.01.15

let our bass breed
The Angling Trust has today written to European Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella ahead of the crucial EU Fisheries and Aquaculture Committee meeting on Friday January 23rd to urge the EU to resist pressure from French and other commercial fishing interests and  proceed in full with a long overdue package of emergency measures to save threatened bass stocks in the English Channel, Southern North Sea and Irish and Celtic Seas.

This followed the failure by member states at last month's Fisheries Council meeting to agree on any bass conservation measures whatsoever despite scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) calling for an immediate 80% reduction in catches. The Commission can implement emergency measures for a limited period in such circumstances.

In his letter to Commissioner Vella, Angling Trust Marine Campaign Manager David Mitchell said:

"We were pleased to see the Commission’s proposed emergency measures are in line with those put forward originally by the UK and we believe that the closure of targeted mid-water and pelagic trawling for aggregating/spawning bass across all the relevant ICES areas is a long overdue management measure. The practice of allowing unlimited fishing effort on an adult spawning stock, such as this, has been the single largest contributing factor to the spawning stock biomass of bass converging towards its lowest historically observed level and ICES advising an 80 per cent cut in catches."

There has been a vigorous lobby over the past week from representatives of the French trawling fleet  against the Commission's proposals. However, the Commission and member states appear confident that the measures put forward by the Commission will be voted through at the meeting on Friday.

Angling Trust Campaign Chief Martin Salter said:

"It is regrettable that these emergency measures are necessary but this is what happens when a fish species is exploited unsustainably and when governments spend too much time ignoring the scientific advice for conservation in favour of pandering to a handful of commercial interests."

The European Angler's Alliance has joined the Angling Trust in welcoming the proposed Emergency Measures saying:

"We applaud this move by the EU Commission. The Member States concerned have had more than two years to come up with an adequate regional bass plan themselves but failed to do so. Therefore the EU Commission had to intervene now, to save the bass spawning stock from further depletion this year, to increase the bass biomass, which is at a dangerously low level."

Further technical meetings will be held over coming months to assess measures to reduce fishing mortality from other sources, including recreational angling. The Angling Trust has stressed to the Commissioner that any such measures should be fair, proportionate and reflect the impact the fishing type has on bass stocks.

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