The Angling Trust wants to see bass stock recovery raised as a General Election issue and is urging anglers to contact their local candidates to seek pledges of support for ‘a fair, balanced and proportionate’ package of measures that targets commercial fishing practices that are doing the most harm to the UK’s most popular saltwater sportfish.
This weekend saw the imposition of a three fish bag limit on recreational fishing by the EU with the support of the UK government. However, anglers are still waiting for the EU to agree on further measures to limit commercial fisheries including monthly vessel limits, a higher minimum legal size (MLS) and seasonal closures to compliment the temporary ban on pelagic trawling of offshore bass spawning aggregations that was introduced by the European Commission in January and which expires on April 30th. The UK government has also committed to a long overdue review of domestic bass management arrangements which would see UK bass stocks restored even further.
The Trust has produced a special template letter that anglers can use to lobby general election candidates and a comprehensive briefing which was circulated to all MPs the day before the dissolution of Parliament.
The briefing is seeking clear statements of support from parliamentary candidates that recognise:
- the serious problems caused by the commercial over-fishing of bass;
- that bass should receive a far greater management priority for the economically significant recreational fishing sector;
- the need for the EU temporary ban on the trawling of winter spawning aggregations to be made permanent;
- the reduction of bass mortality through catch limits in our inshore waters in line with the best available evidence from ICES and others;
- the case for the expansion and reform of bass nursery areas and for an overhaul of the outdated regulations covering inshore netting.
David Mitchell, Marine Campaigns Manager at the Angling Trust said:
“We have said all along that we want to see the ICES advice for an 80% reduction in landings followed in a fair, balanced and proportionate manner that focuses the greatest limitations on the practices that do the most damage. This has always been our view and anglers will only support restrictions on their own fishing if corresponding limits are placed on the commercial catches along with measures to give greater protection to juvenile fish.”
Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd said:
“Now that the three fish recreational bag limit has become law it is essential that the measures under discussion for commercial fisheries such as monthly vessel limits, a new bass MLS of 42cm and seasonal closures, are implemented without delay. It is disappointing that the recreational bag limits and new rules on commercial catch limits were not introduced at the same time – something we’ve lobbied strongly for all along.”
Martin Salter, Campaigns Chief at the Angling Trust added:
“The commercial sector will be lobbying furiously to see a disproportionate amount of the necessary reduction in bass mortality borne by anglers rather than themselves. This is despite the fact that at a time when bass stocks are under threat the total landings into the UK by UK vessels have seen a 30% increase (from 772 tonnes to 1,004 tonnes) during the last year.
This is why we must keep up the pressure on a politicians to follow through on a sensible bass recovery plan that will give these great fish a chance to spawn successfully and recover their numbers.”