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Higher Minimum Legal Size Must Apply To All To Save Bass

04.02.15

EAA-IFSUA Bass Commission Meeting 17-11-14 (2)

David Mitchell (left) and members of EAA will be meeting The European Commission to discuss bass measures for a second time later this month

An EU proposal to raise the minimum legal size for bass must apply to all those fishing for them – that’s the message the Angling Trust has sent to top decision makers at the EU and member of an EU working party who will be discussing further emergency measures for bass in Brussels tomorrow following the ban on pelagic trawling that was introduced earlier this month.

Indications coming out of the EU have been that the new proposed minimum size of 42cm would only apply to recreational catches while commercial fishermen would continue to be able to harvest immature bass at 36cm – effectively discriminating against recreational anglers.

In addition the EU is proposing a monthly limit on how much bass commercial vessels can catch. However, the proposal of 1 tonne per vessel per month means that up to 90 per cent of the under-10m fleet in England wouldn’t be affected at all, according to figures from 2010. This means it is even more important that the small scale commercial sector plays its part in helping to reduce bass mortality through a higher minimum legal size.

Recreational catches are already likely to be subjected to a three fish a day bag limit so the Angling Trust is insisting that a higher MLS for all fisheries, including technical changes to reduce discards of bass, will help move closer to the required 80 per cent reduction advised by scientists.

David Mitchell, Marine Campaigns Manager for the Angling Trust said:Reducing total fishing mortality is the absolute priority and recreational anglers are playing their part in helping to achieve this. It’s fundamentally important that the small scale commercial fishing fleet, which won’t be affected by the proposed monthly vessel limit but which still has a big impact on bass mortality, plays its part too. This can all be achieved in a fair and balanced way with a higher minimum size for all those fishing for bass.

It would also be a real kick in the teeth for anglers who have been campaigning for the minimum size to be increased over so many years to now be required to release immature fish in the knowledge that commercial fishermen will still be allowed to land them.

The Angling Trust has sent the letter to national representatives from the UK attending tomorrow’s meeting, as well as other members of the working party, arguing that a new minimum legal size of at least 42cm (ideally 48cm) would:

  • Address reducing fishing mortality from the ‘mixed fishery’ and recreational sectors in a fair, even-handed and non-discriminatory manner.
  • Allow small scale vessels with catches below the proposed vessel limit to contribute to reducing fishing mortality in line with the ICES advice.
  • Contribute to increasing the spawning stock biomass of bass and build resilience into the fishery.
  • Move towards a higher yield per recruit from the fishery which would contribute towards reaching the target of maximum sustainable yield.
We’ve also encouraged our partner angling organisations at the European Anglers Alliance to contact their own national representatives in order to get as much support for our position as possible.

The Angling Trust and EAA partners have been invited to meet with the Commission in Brussels on Friday February 13th to discuss the emergency measures for bass, after which we’ll have more news to report on our campaign. Keep your eyes peeled for future updates.

The full letter sent to members of the Working Party discussing bass tomorrow can be downloaded HERE.

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