Minister’s Parliamentary answers duck the issue.
BASS, the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society, has rounded upon the answers given in Parliament by the Fisheries Minister, Jonathan Shaw, to Bill Wiggins the Conservative Shadow Fisheries Minister, seeking information about recent scientific evidence pointing to a recruitment failure in the UK bass stock.
In a statement issued in response to the Minister’s replies (see below), John Leballeur, chairman of the Bass Restoration Team says “The public and anglers are increasingly fed up with the same old rhetoric from the stuck gramophone record of DEFRA, that the fishery is being fished sustainably, when mounting evidence shows that this is not the case and that there is a real cause for concern”.
Statement from the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society (BASS) regarding answers to recent parliamentary questions regarding failing recruitment to UK bass stocks.
On Tuesday 3rd June the Fisheries Minister, Jonathan Shaw, provided answers to a series of questions asked by Bill Wiggins, the Conservative Shadow Fisheries Minister, relating to recent scientific evidence warning of a recruitment collapse in the UK bass fishery in years 2005, 2006 and 2007.
The Minister’s replies side-step the main issue with an apparent smoke-screen constructed to play down the alarming evidence of the possibility of an imminent collapse in the fishery, and to maintain the false impression that there is little need for concern.
In the answers provided he did however acknowledge a similar pattern of pre-recruitment indices for the Solent to that of the Tamar since records commenced in 1997.
CEFAS, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science at Lowestoft, is the authority who’s Marine Biologists have the responsibility of conducting and collating of bass pre-recruitment survey results from the Thames, Solent and the Tamar.
These surveys indicate the spawning success of the bass breeding stock during the winter months, and it is the juvenile ‘0’ Group bass which in five year’s time, enter the fish stocks around our coasts.
The scientific evidence which John Leballeur, Chairman of the Bass Restoration Team, is questioning the Minister, is in respect of CEFAS’s survey results against the sampling he himself conducts on the Tamar, which clearly shows a pre-recruitment collapse.
B.A.S.S’s own records (commencing in 1977) and that of CEFAS (Solent data), also clearly show that the pre-recruitment stock has actually halved in size since the good year classes of the 90’s.
It is the breeding stock in the Western Approaches and English Channel from which juvenile ‘0’ group year classes derive to populate the estuaries along the southern part of the United Kingdom, including the Tamar and Solent estuaries, and it is this fishery which has seen over-fishing of the breeding stock in recent years.
Anglers have witnessed the year on year decline of size and quantity of bass.
In the coming next two years, we will begin to see an even further decline when there will be no replacement year classes to enter the fishery.
The public and anglers are increasingly fed up with the same old rhetoric from the stuck gramophone record of DEFRA, that the fishery is being fished sustainably, when mounting evidence shows that this is not the case and that there is a real cause for concern.