End of the line for damaging bass nets in sight

Angling organisations, who have been battling for a better deal for threatened bass stocks and for the introduction of sustainable forms of bass fishing, have today welcomed the announcement by the European Commission that should see the removal of damaging gillnets from the bass fishery in the North Sea, English Channel and North Atlantic.

If the proposals are adopted by the Council of Ministers at the forthcoming Fishing Opportunities meeting in December, commercial bass exploitation will be restricted to hook and line fishing only for ten months of the year in 2017, with a closure in February and March to protect spawning aggregations.

Recreational anglers will be allowed to retain ten fish a month during the ten month open season, as opposed to one fish a day for just six months as is currently the case.

Plea for a complete bass ban

Proposals have been put forward to ban the landing of bass by both commercial and recreational anglers in 2017.
The advisory body, the International Council for the Exploitation of the Seas, of which the UK and Ireland are members, suggest a zero catch in 2017 due to declining stocks of bass.
It says emergency measures in 2015 to protect bass did reduce pelagic trawl catches and also by-catches, and it is assumed this will be repeated due to the measures taken for 2016. For anglers, these included a ban of retaining bass for the first six months of the year and a one-fish bag limit from July 1.
The Angling Trust and the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society warned UK and EU fisheries ministers last year that their failure to take heed of the scientific advice and begin radically reducing the commercial catch limits would eventually mean more pain in the long run as solutions proposed by ICES would get ever more draconian.
Both organisations have issued a joint statement setting out a call for all bass netting to cease and for bass to become a recreational and sustainable commercial hook and line species only. They want to see the introduction of a slot size for both hook and liners and anglers to allow the larger, most fecund individuals to be returned to contribute to stock recovery.
Both the Angling Trust and BASS, who see no case for further restrictions on recreational bass fishing, are seeking an urgent meeting with UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice. They want to discuss the Government's response to the ICES advice ahead of the European Council of Ministers meeting in December where the final decisions will be made.