Recreational fishermen say the quality of fishing has been never better off the East Coast and are concerned that allowing a commercial fishery to be developed will ruin their sport.
The Holderness coast sees some of the biggest fishing matches in the country, with up to 2,000 people attending a match and bringing in huge amounts of revenue.
Improving bass sport in the summer months is proving a draw to anglers from all over Yorkshire and beyond.
The North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee (NESFC) has done research using gill nets to assess the fishery, but anglers say they should have been involved.
Over 70 angling representatives attended a meeting at Hull University over the issue. Anglers say that since water temperatures have risen, there have been bass from Filey Bay down to Spurn Point and into the Humber as well as many other warm-water loving species. The slow-growing fish only put on half a pound a year and take 10 years to mature.
Chris Bailey, of Hedon Angling, said: “It’s phenomenal the damage commercial fishing is going to cause over a period of time.
“A lot of anglers are very angry about it. We want to be catching fish in five or six years time, not having to put the rods away or sell the gear.”
The anglers quote, as an example of the dangers, consultants who valued the Welsh recreational industry to be worth nearly £30m – against £3m from the sale of commercial fish.
“The sea has been raped of everything,” claimed Mr Bailey. He admitted that most of the fish they caught died, but said more and more anglers were interested in “catch and release” matches.
“Some trawlers are 100 yards offshore, taking every single thing and damaging the seabed. It takes years and years to redevelop.
“The NESFC didn’t realise until the meeting how people felt. People went to the meeting to air their views and they were quite shocked by the response.”
NESFC committee member Coun Reg Allen said yesterday that the results of the first year’s study were inconclusive, but it did not look as if they would be granting commercial licences, because of a by-catch of salmon and sea trout.
DNA testing the scales of the fish they caught showed they were indigenous, and they were not getting migrants from outside the area. However, a meeting next month would make the final decision.
Coun Allen said: “I’m certainly not looking at licences at this stage.
“There’s always this friction between commercial fishermen and anglers. We have sympathy with both sides.
“We have a fishing industry that’s got its back to the wall and we have depleted stocks generally. It’s how we share it out between commercial fishermen and anglers.
“We tell them time and time again that the committee’s aim and objective is for a sustainable fishing industry on both sides.
“It is not in our interests to let uncontrolled fishing go on and deplete stocks further.”