ICES Advice on bass (June 2014)

Excerpts below taken from the ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) publication dated June 2014: ECOREGION STOCK – Celtic Sea and West of Scotland + North Sea European sea bass in Divisions IVbc, VIIa, and VIId–h (Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, English Channel, and southern North Sea)

Strong year classes in 1989 and some subsequent years caused a rapid increase in biomass throughout the stock area, and landings and fishing mortality in the commercial fishery also increased. The combined commercial and recreational fishery F is well above the FMSY proxy. Recruitment has been declining since the mid-2000s, and has been very poor since 2008. The combination of declining recruitment and increasing F is causing a rapid decline in biomass.

ICES advises that a management plan is urgently needed to develop and implement measures to substantially reduce fishing mortality throughout the range of the stock.

However, ICES has offered this advice/information before . . . and no action was taken: ICES recomendation of a 20% reduction in catches of “seabass”. It does make one wonder how bad the situation has to get (in any fishery, not just bass) before action is taken.

In the longer term, management of sea bass fisheries could take into account the objectives and the economic and social value of the commercial and recreational fisheries that share the resource, adopting a common methodological approach to estimate the value of each fishery.

Surely ‘could’ needs to be replaced by ‘should’. We believe on that basis that ‘best use of the ‘resource’ would be clearly demonstrated in favour of recreational fisheries. See: EU STECF meeting. In the USA it is already recognised that the recreational sector is hugely valuable to the economy.