Cornish inshore commercial fishermen have finally admitted that bass stocks in Cornwall are over-fished.
In the January 18th edition of Fishing News, skipper David Bond of Looe explained that the lack of available quota for species such as cod and sole has forced the inshore fleet to increase the pressure on non quota species like bass using gill nets.
In the article he states: “We have tens of small boats from Mevagissey almost literally crying out after being forced to fish (nets) for bass when there’s already too much pressure on that fishery..”
For many years the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS) have advised Defra that increasing commercial fishing for bass was threatening both bass stocks and recreational angling quality.
BASS have repeatedly called on Defra to introduce measures to better protect bass stocks and to accept the government research which clearly shows that recreational sea angling for bass generates a huge amount of money by comparison to the value of the commercial catch, and supports thousands more livelihoods, particularly in the South West.
The Bass Management Plan written by BASS and presented to Defra called for a range of measures including an increase in the minimum landing size to allow all female bass to spawn before capture.
This measure was put out to consultation by Defra but subsequently turned down. Not on biological grounds, but because of lobbying from the commercial sector, and a behind closed doors acceptance by Defra that it would impact the inshore fleet when quota species were used up.
“The latest admission by skipper Bond has revealed what we all knew would happen when Defra were afraid to grasp the nettle regarding the minimum landing size increase”, states John Leballeur of BASS
“We now have a situation created by Defra in which neither recreational nor commercial bass fishermen will benefit, and the biggest losers will be the bass stocks and the environment.
The bass which are inshore at this time of the year tend to be the smaller fish, which have come out of the estuaries. These fish are mostly immature and have not yet spawned.
The failure of Defra to increase the minimum landing size to protect these fish means that the increased pressure now being exerted by the commercials will take even more bass before they have ever spawned.
With the lack of available quota on other species, every inshore commercial is now setting gill nets for immature bass which are non quota species.
This is a recipe for total disaster, a mismanagement of a public resource and a blatant acceptance of an unsustainable situation.”
Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society (BASS)
Conserving the UK’s Greatest Sportfish