06/02/2016 at 6:41 am #60083
Please speak up for sea bass in Parliament on February 11th – we need your help
You are probably aware that there are an estimated three million people in the UK who enjoy
recreational fishing but you might not know that the Sea Angling 2012 study commissioned by the
government concluded that recreational sea angling alone was directly responsible for 10,400 jobs
and some £1.23 billion in economic benefit. By far the most popular fish for sea anglers is the bass,
the numbers of which have declined to near unsustainable levels as a result of more than 20 years
of commercial overfishing. The government has quoted sea bass as having a recreational value of
£200m to the economy, vastly more than the first sale value of all commercial bass landings.
Scientific advice issued by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) in June
2014 recommended an 80% cut in bass mortality across the EU area for 2015. This followed the
2013 advice for a 36% cut which was ignored. In 2014 bass landings by UK vessels actually rose by
30% (from 772 tonnes to 1,004 tonnes).
The UK secured some success in leading on the EU-wide introduction of the 2015 package of
emergency measures to protect bass stocks with a ban on offshore pelagic trawling. However, the
situation has continued to deteriorate. ICES advice for 2016 recommended catches of no more
than 541 tonnes – effectively a 90% reduction on 2014. The 2015 measures are estimated to have
reduced catches by only 36% and the European Commission accepted that they simply didn’t go
far enough. As anglers we were braced for further changes.
The original proposals from the Commission for 2016 included a complete bass fishing ban for
commercial vessels and recreational anglers in the first half of 2016 and in the second half of 2016
a monthly one tonne catch limit for vessels targeting sea bass and a one fish per day bag limit for
recreational anglers down from no limit in 2014 and a three fish limit last year.
Anglers were angered when EU Fisheries Ministers caved in to pressure from commercial fishing
interests and granted four month exemptions to commercial hook and line and the highly
damaging bass fixed gill net fishery – responsible for 50% of landings – wrongly referred to as “low
impact”. Worse still the monthly vessel catch limits for the commercials were actually increased to
1.3 tonnes at the same time as anglers faced draconian restrictions.
Thousands of anglers are now at risk of criminalisation if they try to keep the self-same bass that
a netsman is free to kill during the moratorium.
As recreational anglers, we were prepared to play our part in what we expected to be a fair,
effective and proportionate package of measures that would help rebuild bass stocks but instead
we have been singled out for over regulation while the commercial nets will continue to take vast
quantities of fish, much of which is unrecorded.
The current situation cannot endure. The recreational bag limits are grossly unfair, they make a
mockery of the law and fail to acknowledge that recreational sea angling is the most sustainable
form of bass fishing which delivers the best economic return.
On Thursday, February 11th at 2.15pm, North Cornwall MP Scott Mann will be leading a three
hour backbench debate in the House of Commons to highlight the unfairness of the current
measures on recreational sea anglers. The debate is entitled: “Conservation of sea bass and the
effect of related EU measures on the UK recreational fishing industry.”
Scott will be moving the following motion:
“That this House believes that the recent EU restrictions on recreational sea bass fishing are unfair
and fail to address the real threat to the future viability of UK sea bass stocks; and calls on the
Government to make representations within the Council of the EU on the reconsideration of the
imposition of those restrictions.”
As my MP I’m asking if you would please attend this important parliamentary debate to speak in
support of introducing revised measures that reduce bass mortality by restricting rather than
increasing harmful commercial harvesting methods such as gill netting and instead promote
sustainable methods such as hook & line fishing for both the commercial and recreational sectors.
The Angling Trust have produced this helpful briefing which you can find here: http://ow.ly/XWzUD
I would be most grateful for your support on this issue and look forward to hearing from you.
06/02/2016 at 6:42 am #175839
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.