Dear Mr Bradshaw,
Re: Delay in Dealing with Bass Conservation Measures
I am being contacted by a number of our members who are extremely upset to learn that DEFRA do not intend to announce a decision on the recent bass Minimum Landing Size (MLS) Consultation until ‘the early summer’.
We have consistently urged that action should be taken well before the abundant 2002 year class become vulnerable at the current MLS of 36cm.
Our preference would have been to have the measures in place by the Autumn of 2005, to ensure protection for this year class in good time, and we were somewhat concerned that an implementation in the Spring of 2006 seemed more likely.
This would have been acceptable, as relatively few of that year class will now be susceptible at 36cm.
But we are conscious of the fact that every day of delay now increases the number of fish becoming vulnerable, and with a ‘decision date’ of early summer being suggested (with no date suggested for implementation) our fear is that the greater part of that cohort will have been lost by the time any measures are in place, particularly as we are aware that fishermen threatened with a future restriction will be taking as many fish as they can, whilst they are still allowed too.
Our concern is heightened by the fact that although the 2003 year class is said to be ‘reasonable’ (but not nearly as large as the 2002 year class that we are about to loose), both the 2004 and 2005 year classes are thought to be ‘poor’, and further damage to the juvenile stocks will have occurred during this long harsh winter.
We are in danger of loosing a unique opportunity to build an excellent fishery that will ensure a robust population of spawning fish for the future, through avoidable delay, and we would urge you to ensure that there is a greater sense of urgency expressed and acted upon by those who have been charged with seeking to put these measures in place.
Sea Anglers’ Conservation Network (SACN)