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Angling Trust Pushes For Fair Bass Deal And End To Fixed Net Fiasco

16.11.18

Meeting with George Eustice - November 2017
Angling Trust meeting Fisheries Minister George Eustice to discuss bass in November 2017.

EU Commission Publishes Proposals for Bass Fishing Opportunities 2019

The Angling Trust has welcomed the EU Commission’s recently published proposals for bass fishing opportunities in 2019 which, if agreed by ministers, will eliminate targeted fixed netting and allow anglers to retain one bass per day for seven months of the year – from April through to October 2019.

However, having lobbied vigorously over the course of 2018 to get a bag limit re-established in October of this year, after preliminary scientific estimates wildly overstated the impact of recreational fishing, the Angling Trust is pushing for the bag limit to be increased further in 2019.

Scientists are currently calculating the impact of various bag limit options put forward by the Angling Trust which would see the UK public’s ability to catch bass for recreational or personal consumption increased, while still keeping the fishery within safe scientifically advised overall limits.

The Angling Trust and campaign group Save Our Sea Bass discussed various bass limit options with the Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, at a recent fisheries stakeholder meeting.

The rights of UK and EU citizens to take bass have been disproportionately curtailed over recent years in favour of supporting commercial fishing interests. Before the bag limit was re-established in October 2018, the public had been completely banned from catching and eating their own bass from January to September 2018, a situation the Angling Trust said should ‘never be allowed to happen again’.

One of the most significant and welcome developments in the Commission’s proposals is a 1 per cent cap on landings of bass from fixed nets, to stop fixed netters cynically abusing the allowance intended only for ‘“unavoidable” bycatches of bass. A percentage cap on fixed nets would eliminate large, targeted, catches of bass masquerading as unavoidable bycatch.

David Mitchell, Head of Marine at the Angling Trust, said: “With the bass stock beginning to show signs of recovery there’s still no room for complacency and it is critical that the UK and EU stay on course in order for all stakeholders to reap the benefits of a fully recovered stock in years to come. This means keeping the nets out of the fishery, as far as possible, and keeping it open only to sustainable hook and line and recreational fishing.

Anglers were banned from keeping any bass for most of this year, which was an outrage. Banning public access to a publicly-owned resource while allowing a small number of commercial operators to continue fishing for private profit was one of the low points of EU fisheries policy. All we are asking for in 2019 is a fair and sustainable share of bass fishing opportunities as we continue to play our part in helping to rebuild stocks that were driven to the brink through no fault of the public who enjoy fishing for bass recreationally.”

David Curtis, Save Our Sea Bass Conservation Officer, said: “The science shows that sea anglers have never been the problem in the bass fishery and have been unfairly and disproportionately restricted. Recent ICES calculations indicate there is room for the bag limit to be increased in 2019, whilst keeping overall landings at a sustainable level and enabling the stock to recover.

Some fixed netters have been illegally targeting bass and landing them as “unavoidable” bycatch.  A percentage of daily catch restriction would stop them in their tracks. Sea anglers need to get behind the campaign to Get the Nets Out!

The Angling Trust and Save Our Sea Bass met with UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice this week to urge him to stand firm against efforts to water down the Commission’s proposals.


Notes:
  • Anglers can contact their MPs through the Save Our Seabass Campaign Page here.
  • A copy of the Angling Trust letter to George Eustice can be downloaded here.

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