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.”