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Angling Trust calls for Bass Bag Limit to be restored



Later this month EU Fisheries Ministers will be considering a proposal from the European Commission which is expected to recommend the reinstatement of a bag limit for recreational catches of sea bass for the remainder of 2018.

This follows the publication in June of revised scientific advice from ICES which significantly reduced the estimated impact of recreational fishing on bass from 1,627 tonnes down to 212 tonnes, giving scope to reinstate a bag limit.

Sea anglers across Europe have been annoyed by the no-take policy, which they considered unfair and unnecessary, and frustrated at the time it has taken the European Commission to respond after the revised scientific advice was issued earlier this summer. Anglers’ frustration was compounded by knowing that whilst they faced draconian restrictions commercial fishermen have been able to land and sell bass since January this year.

The Angling Trust has written to Fisheries Minister George Eustice asking him to support a two fish recreational bass bag limit and to “do whatever you can to ensure that the proposal is considered by the Council at the earliest opportunity” following a commitment made last year to look again at the measures when new scientific advice became available.

David Curtis, Director at Save our Sea Bass, said: “Sea anglers have been disproportionally hit by EU bass measures: our share of the bass catch has fallen from 25% in 2012 to just 6% in 2018. The revised science confirmed in June that the removal of the bag limit was a mistake, but here we are in September and only now is the EU Commission getting around to making a proposal to amend the law. And then we must wait for the EU Fisheries Ministers to review and approve it. Meanwhile, businesses that rely on bass angling continue to suffer needlessly and sea anglers have missed the opportunity to land a bass over the summer.  Let’s hope that our Fisheries Minister can speed things up and end this injustice quickly.”

David Mitchell, Head of Marine at the Angling Trust added: “No member of the public who goes angling can understand the logic in banning them from keeping a few bass for personal consumption particularly when commercial fishing for bass has continued. Now that the science proves the public are having a vastly reduced impact than previously thought its time that the ban on them harvesting publicly-owned bass is overturned at the earliest possible opportunity.”

  • In October 2017, ICES provided an estimate of sea bass mortality attributable to public sea angling of 1,627 tonnes, which resulted in the introduction of a complete ban on sea anglers taking a bass for the table in 2018.  This was while commercial fishermen could continue landing bass, effectively privatising the bass fishery. A proposed ban on anglers targeting bass on a catch & release basis in the first 6 months of 2018 was overturned, following a 13,000 signature petition organised through the European Anglers Alliance (EAA).
  • ICES has used a revised methodology to come up with a figure that represents an 87% decrease in the estimated impact of recreational fishing in 2016 compared to the figures published last year. Scientists are now estimating recreational removals from 2016 were only 212t, compared to a previously estimated 1,627t.
  • A copy the letter to George Eustice can be downloaded here.

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