‘We could lose and entire year group’ says BASS.
“A cruel trick of nature threatens the first positive signs of a recovery in the recruitment of bass stocks” says John Leballeur, Chairman of the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society’s Bass Restoration team.
“Following three disastrous years when bass recruitment seemed to be failing, 2008 saw the late arrival in shallow nursery areas of a year group that seemed to indicate better numbers of juveniles promising hope for the future.
But past experience has shown that entire juvenile year classes can be wiped out as they seek refuge and food in shallow nursery areas, when winter temperatures plummet below freezing, for any continuous period of time.
And we are seeing now for the first time in a decade or more, a sustained period of freezing temperatures cold enough to ice up sheltered harbours in the South-west.
This could decimate that 2008 year class which is now so vulnerable to this bitter winter”
And with such poor recruitment for the previous three years, the signs are that bass could become much rarer in our inshore waters.
That would not only impact on the future commercial fishery, but could devastate the extremely valuable recreational bass fishery, said to be worth some £100 million to the coastal economy.
Already bass are being heavily exploited by commercial fishermen because bass is a non-quota species, and with ever tightening enforcement of fishing for quota species, more fishermen and boats are turning to bass to maintain their profitability.
“We are heartsick at what we see unfolding before us” said John Leballeur who is calling upon DEFRA to act quickly to protect remaining bass stocks, and to ensure that the Marine Fisheries Agency and the Sea Fisheries Committees are given adequate resources to properly enforce existing protection measures for bass.
“If we do lose this year group to the cold, following the previous three years of recruitment failure, it will be a tragedy, not just for commercial fishermen and anglers, but for many businesses and livelihoods dependent upon the bass fishery.
The time to act is now, before it is too late. “