Changes to create UK sea sportfishing

 

Government action this spring (2006) to prohibit fishermen and sea anglers from landing immature sea bass could be the first step in developing a profitable world class British sport fishery. It would substantially expand the present 19,000-job sea angling industry already contributing £1 billion the economy.

 

John Leballeur, chairman of BASS (Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society), said the ban would mean there were more and bigger bass in UK waters. “That could lead to a recreational fishery as successful as that for striped bass on the US Atlantic coast.

 

“When management measures were introduced there in the 1980s, the value of the fishery soared from $85 million (£50 million) to $560 million in ten years,” he said.

 

Proposals just issued (November 16) by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) would stop wild sea bass less than 45 cm long (weighing about 900 grams) being caught and sold.

 

Today bass 36 cm long weighing about 500 grams, may be legally sold in Britain  

 

“Fish that size have not spawned so when we sit down to enjoy them it is as if we are eating the seed corn,” said Ted Tuckerman, chairman of the National Federation of Sea Anglers, which strongly support the government proposals.

 

“By the time they are 45 cm long many will have spawned at least once, helping to ensure continued productivity with many more young fish growing and more larger ones being caught.”

 

“It will further expand sea angling mainly to the benefit of coastal communities some of them already suffering from the decline in the commercial fishing industry.”

 

Fishermen would have to use larger mesh nets and other species of fish would also escape to breed and grow, so improving recreational sea angling all round.

 

The changes were called for in a bass management plan to the government last year following recommendations from the Prime Minister’s strategy unit.

 

Defra wants anglers and commercial fishermen to comment on the proposals by February 8 when a decision will be taken on the new rules.  They should write

to:

 

Nicola Clarke

Coastal Waters Policy

Area 7E

3 – 8 Whitehall Place

London  SW1A 2HH

Fax:  020 7270 8097

E-mail: bassmls@defra.gsi.gov.uk

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