A campaign has been launched, designed to help improve the quality of the bass fishing around the coasts of Great Britain. Spearheaded by the Angling Trust, and the Bass Anglers Sportsfishing Society (B.A.S.S.) pressure group, the move is designed to urge the powers that be to adopt a sustainable approach to the management of our bass stocks. In particular, the campaign is pushing for a scientifically endorsed minimum size limit that will allow stocks to breed and recover.

An open letter from the campaign to Downing Street stresses:

“The success of our trades businesses, employees, customers and suppliers is dependent on the numbers and sizes of fish available for anglers to catch. The most popular sea fish for anglers is bass and the sales of bass angling tackle has been a growth area for our trade in recent years. Anglers would like to catch more and bigger bass, but that needs more and bigger bass in our seas. Sadly the recent stock surveys have shown that the species is in trouble and that now, more than ever before, we need a substantial raise in the bass mls from the current 36cms which is well below the 42cms optimum size at which they are able to spawn.

A recent survey by the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency showed more than a third of anglers go sea angling (that’s around 1 million people) and amongst sea anglers the biggest issue is poor fish stocks.

Previous surveys have shown that sea angling is an industry worth over £500 million per annum, and businesses depend on anglers being able to catch decent sized fish to encourage them to keep going fishing and bring in new anglers, especially youngsters.

We are therefore urging the government to implement the proposals from the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society and the Angling Trust to increase the minimum landing size of bass to 45 – 48cms so that ALL bass get at least one chance to breed before we target them for harvesting. This makes sense, is in line with best fishery management practice and will crucially help businesses prosper and grow with the recovery of fish stocks. Experience from Ireland where sensible conservation measures were introduced following a stock collapse have shown that it is possible to create a valuable and well managed resource. Latest estimates put the value of the Irish recreational bass fishery alone at 15 million Euros. And while we are not calling for an end to commercial bass fishing it is worth pointing out that the value of all the commercial landings in the whole of the UK is scarcely more than £6 million.

Jobs in our industry are just as worthwhile as jobs in the commercial fishing industry and we require no subsidies and little regulation. We just need a fair chance to grow on businesses which we will do if fish stocks are allowed to recover and are managed sustainably.”

To support the campaign, anglers are urged to lobby their local MP’s about the issue. Businesses in the trade, should complete and sign the open letter to Richard Benyon MP, which is available from:

Martin Salter – Angling Trust (martin.salter@anglingtrust.net)

Nigel Horsman – B.A.S.S. (nigel.horsman@btinternet.com)

Total Sea Fishing Magazine