Defra press release re mls

Bass Landing Size Increase To Improve the Stock

The minimum landing size for sea bass is to be increased to improve and
sustain the fishery.

From April 6, 2007, fishermen and anglers will not be allowed to land bass
any smaller than 40cm Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw announced today. The
current limit is 36 cm.

Mr Bradshaw said: “I have listened very carefully to the representations
made and have not taken this decision lightly. I have accepted the arguments for a bigger minimum landing size to help increase the quantity and size of bass. This will also give better protection for the stocks.There may be short term costs from this measure before we see future gains but it is vital that fisheries management takes a long term view.

The recreational fishing sector makes a major contribution to our economy
and it is important that their voice, as well as those of commercial
fishermen, is taken into account in fisheries management.”

“In the future, I intend to increase the landing size further to 45cm, but
subject to the results of a review, in 2010, of the effectiveness of the
measures I have announced today.”

The increase to 40cm will bring the minimum landing size closer to the average spawning size for bass (42cm). As a result, more juvenile fish will be protected and there would be increased recruitment to the spawning stock. This will in turn increase the number and size of bass available for capture to both the commercial and recreational sector.

The increase in the minimum landing size is the first in a wider package of measures being considered by Defra in relation to sea angling. Work is currently underway with anglers, commercial fishermen and other interested parties on the drafting of a recreational sea angling strategy for England, and provisions are being considered for the Marine Bill in relation to sea angling.

Further measures in relation to bass are also being considered, including
‘bag limit’ restrictions that would limit the number of fish individual sea anglers can take.

The Minister said:
“I have taken on board the concerns expressed during the consultation by the commercial fishing sector about the impact of an immediate increase to 45cm and the need for a reasonable implementation period to minimise the cost of net replacement.

“I hope that both commercial and angling sectors will support this
measure.”

To accompany the increased minimum landing size, the Minister has also announced an increase in the mesh size for fixed gear for targeted bass fisheries from the current 90mm to 100mm to reduce potential discards.

These measures are being taken forward in the light of recommendations in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit Report, ‘Net Benefits’ on recreational sea angling, and specifically, that fisheries departments consider the redesignation of certain species wholly for sea angling, including bass.

Notes to Editors

1. The consultation, which closed on 8 February, sought views on 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 2,800 responses were received. A summary of these responses and a Regulatory Impact Assessment, which evaluates the costs and benefits of the proposals are available at,
http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/bass-mls/index.htm

2. The increased minimum landing size and minimum mesh size will apply to English fishing vessels wherever they fish and Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh fishing vessels when in the English part of UK fishery limits. The minimum mesh size 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.

3. The increased 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 an increased MLS would accrue chiefly to fisheries operating within the UK 6-mile zone.

4. The minimum landing size will also apply to sea anglers, whether fishing from the shore or from a vessel. These measures will be implemented through a Statutory Instrument which will come into force on 6 April 2007.

5. The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) conducted a parallel consultation in relation to the Welsh territorial sea and will be making an announcement on the outcome of this shortly.

6. The review before considering a further increase in the MLS will assess the impact of the measures in terms of the stock and fishing activities, both commercial and recreational.

7. The angling strategy for England being developed by a sub group to Defra’s Inshore Fisheries Working Group 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.