The Countryside Alliance accused Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw of a complete and utter fudge over the issue of bass landing sizes. From 6th April 2007, fishermen will not be allowed to land bass that are smaller than 40cm. The current landing size is 36cm.
The Alliance backed the recommendation that landing sizes should be increased to 45cm, which is more than the average spawning size of bass (42cm). It was a view shared by the Bass Anglers Sportfish Society and the National Federation of Sea Anglers. The minister eventually intends to increase the landing size to 45cm but not until 2010 – for many this is far too late.
Robert Gray, Alliance Campaigns Director, said: “This is a political fudge of the worst kind where no-one is happy. The commercial fishermen are unhappy about the increase whilst the rest of us feel that the recommendation does not go far enough. Worse, it doesn’t even apply to foreign fishing vessels pursuing bass in the UK fishery.”
He continued: “The Alliance is a ferocious protector of rural livelihoods but if there are no fish to catch, there are no livelihoods. The rape of juvenile fish stocks shows an incredible lack of long-term thinking. Bold moves now will secure a longer-term future for both commercial and recreational fishers. Sadly, we did not see such a move from the minister.”