BASS meets WAG

BASS meets with Welsh Fisheries Minister about the bass MLS Consultation

On Wednesday 13th September 2006, at his invitation, representatives of BASS met the Welsh Fisheries Minister, Carwyn Jones, in Cardiff and had a very productive meeting.

Also present were representatives from the Federation of Sea Anglers from both North and South Wales, who fully supported an increase of the bass mls to 45cms and the Bass Management Plan (BMP).

A very full and useful dialogue took place covering the benefits of increasing the bass MLS to 45cms, as well as, the other conservation tools contained within the BMP, to address the massive problem of black fish landings, netting and trawling around the coast of Wales.

BASS were able to provide vital evidence on the life-cycle, reproduction and distribution of bass, as well as relate to the Minister the downward trend in the size of fish. Also how dangerous it is to rely on each year class to be fished hard, once they enter the fishery at 36cm, when they are still immature fish.

The Minister was more than aware of the socio-economic values, and the benefits to tourism in particular.

The decision on the bass MLS will be made public by the Minister, in the middle of October 2006.

John Leballeur
BASS Chairman

If you would like to make a comment on this article, please contact BASS and we’ll add your comment below.

11 October 2006 – From John Edwards SWWASAC:
WFSA and SWWASAC met with Bass and WAG. Response is as below:

Bass Minimum Landing Size Standardisation

The minimum landing size (MLS) for sea bass is to be standardised in Welsh waters out to 12 nautical miles at 37.5cm, with a minimum mesh size (MMS) of 100mm, Carwyn Jones, Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside announced today.

These measures have been in place out to 6 nautical miles in the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee district since 1997, with a MLS of 36cm applying to the rest of Welsh Waters out to 12 nautical miles. These measures will become standard across Wales, allowing more consistent enforcement, through a Statutory Instrument which will come into force in 2007. Sea Fisheries Committees will also be encouraged to introduce limits to the number of bass individuals from non commercially-licensed fishing boats can take and land.

Carwyn Jones said: “Commercial fishermen and recreational anglers have stressed that the biggest threat to bass stocks comes from the illegal sale of bass by non commercially-licensed fishing boats. That is why I am encouraging Sea Fisheries Committees to introduce limits to the number of bass non commercially-licensed fishing boats can take and land.”

This, along with the Registration of Fish Buyers and Sellers Regulations, will protect bass stocks by targeting the black sector, which, according to the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society, takes at least 35% of all bass landings in Wales. These measures will, it is felt, have a greater impact on stocks than increasing the MLS in excess of 37.5cm, whilst at the same time minimising both the economic impact on the commercial sector and the level of discards of undersized fish.

The effectiveness of the measures will be kept under review with further changes made if necessary.

These measures are the first in a wider package being considered by the Welsh Assembly Government in relation to sea angling. Work is currently underway with anglers, commercial fishermen and other interested parties in developing an overarching Welsh Fisheries Strategy and this will inform provisions to be considered for inclusion in the Marine Bill in relation to sea fisheries.

The Minister’s decision follows a period of consultation, meetings with stakeholders and an evaluation of the evidence and the costs and benefits of the options.

Notes to Editors

1. The consultation, which closed on 14 February, sought views on a number of options including an increase from 36cm to 45cm in the minimum landing size (MLS) of bass and a corresponding increase in the minimum mesh size (MMS) for fixed gear. Approximately 230 responses were received. A summary of these responses and a Regulatory Appraisal, which evaluates the costs and benefits of the proposals are available from Fisheries, Welsh Assembly Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ.

2. The Minister also met with representatives from the Bass Anglers? Sportfishing Society; the Welsh Federation of Sea Anglers; the South West Wales Association of Sea Angling Clubs; the Welsh Federation of Fishermen’s Associations; and the South & West Wales Fishing Communities Ltd., before making a decision.

3. Evidence from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is that bass stocks are currently healthy and fished sustainably.

4. The new MLS and MMS will apply to English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh fishing vessels when in the Welsh part of UK fishery limits. The MMS applies to all enmeshing nets (such as gill, tangle, drift, trammel and seine nets), but only to those vessels whose catches compose over 10% bass.

5. The MLS will not apply to other member states’ vessels. However, fewer than 10% of bass tagged within the UK inshore fishery and reported as recaptured were taken by other countries vessels. This suggests that the main benefits of these measures would accrue chiefly to fisheries operating within the UK 6-mile zone.

6. The MLS will also apply to sea anglers, whether fishing from the shore or from a vessel. These measures will be implemented through a Statutory Instrument.

7. Defra conducted a parallel consultation in relation to the English territorial sea and announced, on 10th August, that they will be introducing a 40cm MLS and a 100mm MMS.

8. The overarching Welsh Fisheries Strategy which is being developed may include elements such as management of key stocks of interest to anglers, improving access, controls on anglers, as well as other sea angling development opportunities.

9. The South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee (SWSFC) district covers the sea out to six nautical miles from the coast between Cemaes Head in Pembrokeshire and the Rhymney River in Cardiff, except in the Severn Estuary, where the district extends to the mid-point between Wales and England.