Reply to UK Consultation on Future Fisheries Policies

Specific Defra personnel dedicated to supporting and growing recreational Sea Angling

UK Recreational Sea Angling suffers by not having staff within Defra dedicated to supporting and growing sea angling.  The growth potential of UK sea angling is huge, but it needs champions within Defra to ensure it gets the attention it needs.

Legislation

Management goals must be set out clearly in legislation, so that the Government can be held to account on achieving those goals.  There is no point in setting out “feel-good” goals that can be ignored if they become inconvenient.

Stock Levels

The UK should aim to recover stocks to a more ambitious level than MSY.   MSY does not even maximise economic return. MSY is not an appropriate management target for species that are long lived, slow growing and where year classes are highly variable and dependent on climate.

For stocks that are targeted by recreational anglers (such as bass, cod, mackerel, pollack, wrasse, etc) the UK should aim for abundance, making the UK an attractive destination for sea angling tourism by offering a good chance of catching fish and a good chance of catching a sizeable fish.

MCRS should be set at or above the spawning size.

Zonal Management

Recreational angling should be protected from close inshore netting and trawling.  This damages sensitive habitat and detracts from the quality of sea anglers’ fishing experience.

Fishing Allocations

Commercial fishing allocations should be set after taking into account the mortality attributable to recreational sea fishing.

The public should have priority in UK fisheries.

Bass

The current dire bass stock is due in large part to overfishing.  Sea anglers have watched commercial landings increase and sea anglers’ share of the bass catch decline from 70% in the 1970s.

The UK bass fishery should be permanently restricted to targeting by recreational sea anglers and commercial hook & liners.   Illegal targeting of bass by fixed nets should be discouraged by introducing a 10% of catch limit on fixed netters in addition to a tightly controlled by-catch limit.

Funding

To date funding has only been made available to commercial fishermen.  Going forward it should be available to support and grow recreational angling.

This might cover: the creation of artificial reefs, helping guides learn how to market their services, encouraging youth participation, habitat management, R&D support for UK tackle manufacturers, etc

Access

Attention should be given to helping sea anglers access fishing sites.  This would include affordable parking near fishing venues, affordable boat launching fees, access to piers, etc.

Data

Gold standard fisheries management requires high quality landing data.  All commercial landings should be recorded with no exception.  This data should be publicly available in real time, as it is in Iceland.

3 Comments
  1. Sounds like a sensible approach to me, Bass sport fishing and commercial line fishing along with managable sustainable limits would surely lead to stock recovery.
    Bass sport angling must surely be of more economic value than the fish itself, the indirect value of Bass angling needs to be impressed upon those who see the ‘on the slab’ per pound value only.
    Tight lines

  2. One of the main attractions of sea fishing particularly bass fishing which is often in the lesser visited parts of the coast due to rocks etc is the freedom of feeling free to pit your wits against a cautious smart bass. More regulations more fisheries scrutiny of anglers more interference more rules more catch limits even closed seasons etc levelled at anglers to address the problem caused by commercial fishermen is just tackling the cat when the child comes in crying with a dog bite. So leave us to do our low impact activity which until recently has been one of the few areas of life in the UK that we could do without having to abide by a whole raft of rules officials scrutiny and “management”. Spend money on muzzling the dog and let the cat go back to sleep.

  3. There is little evidence that recreational angling for bass needs regulation, promotion or support. It coped perfectly well until the late 1970’s when commercial fishermen latched onto the fishery. What it needs is regulation of the commercial fishery at pre-1970’s levels e.g. no gill netting at all, no pair trawling at all, rigorously enforced rod-and-line with mandatory reporting and carcass tagging. No sale of untagged fish. The recreational fishery is easily managed using a model like the Irish one – make it an offence for anyone to be in possession of e.g. more than 2 untagged bass, or to sell or attempt to sell untagged bass

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