[We quote below, an article which appeared in the ‘Western Morning News’ on 5 March 2007. We are grateful to the editor of the Western Morning News and the author, Phil Lockley, for allowing BASS to reproduce the article on this web site.]
Angry debate over new 40cm limit
Fishermen defend bass landing size regulations
With three weeks to go before the minimum landing size (MLS) of bass is raised to 40cm in English waters the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS) is calling for calm among commercial fishermen.”At least give it a chance to work,” said John Leballeur, leader of BASS as the group struck back at the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation (NFFO), a group representing some of the fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which says the new rule is unjust and without scientific basis.
[COMMERCE OR CONSERVATION?
Fishermen are still at loggerheads with bass anglers with
less than one month to go before the 40cm law comes in.]
The NFFO recently set up a fund to oppose the measure and is to meet Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw.
Mr Leballeur said recent publicity gave the public a one-sided view of the reasons for the introduction of what was simply a conservation measure.
He said: “It is true that BASS has been concerned about the fragility of the bass stocks in UK waters for some time and thus made representation to Defra to bring in measures which protect immature bass from commercial over exploitation. Currently commercial fishermen are targeting immature bass, ones that in our opinion – and that of scientists – have not had a chance to spawn.
“We say this is madness for the long-term preservation of a fish which 30 years ago was the preserve of anglers, not commercial fishermen.”
Some BASS members are active in practical research (netting, measuring and releasing very small bass) to get some idea of the year classes to come.
Mr Leballeur said: “The NFFO repeatedly state that bass are fished sustainably.”
“There is a very big difference between what commercial fishermen see as sustainable exploitation compared to sea anglers. Commercial fishermen want abundant small fish; anglers want a more natural balance of different sizes of fish including bigger female fish, which produce the most eggs.”
“At the moment bigger bass are becoming rare – in our opinion and that of a large section of the British public – pair trawlers and inshore gill netters have over-exploited them.”
He added: “It is in the interests of the commercial fishermen, the public and sea anglers to create strong sustainable bass populations that can be enjoyed by all users well into the future. Responsible commercial fishermen will avoid areas where they know large numbers of undersized immature bass congregate and they will reap the benefit later when those fish begin to mature and larger numbers of bigger fish are present.”