The proposed EU 2016 bass landing restrictions have impacted like a rock in an aquarium. Now as the waves settle out the reactions of different parties can be better judged. Many it seems appear confused, some are fighting, while others are seeking to exploit the situation.
Our analysis of the proposals is while they are an undoubtedly improvement on our existing measures, they ignore the MAXIMUM of 541 tonnes of bass landings in 2016 that is needed just to prevent the stock from further declining from its already depleted level. Given this, a huge restriction for all stakeholders is clearly needed to achieve the 541 T figure.
Article 17 of the reformed common fisheries policy introduced in 2014 means fisheries activities should be allocated in a way to maximise economic and social benefit and minimise environmental damage. Yet in terms of the allocation of 2016 landings the proposals mean that compared to the commercial sector, the measures are disproportionately restrictive on anglers – the very group who should be favoured most given Article 17 and all existing evidence (e.g http://www.bluemarinefoundation.com/a-new-report-commissioned-by-blue-suggests-fish-should-only-be-caught-with-hooks/ and http://www.ukbass.com/the-economic-worth-of-english-sea-angling-compared-to-commercial-fishing-the-difference-is-startling/ ).
So in summary these measures will restrict our angling, yet still fail to save our bass and our future fishing. (You can read the full responses of BASS and Saveourseabass.org here http://www.ukbass.com/response-to-eu-commission-sea-bass-proposals/ and here http://www.saveourseabass.org/en/response-to-eu-commission-sea-bass-proposals/ )
The commercial sectors reaction to the proposals remarkably reveals they for once appear split. As a group they normally convey a public message of unity, regardless of the science or the reality behind the scenes. With these proposals, even the chairman of the National Federation of Fisheries Organisations (NFFO) has recently released a statement noting “There are signs of splits and fragmentation within the industry about what to do about bass.” Strange days indeed!
The commercial sector (and their many paid lobbyist) are starting to rally. Apart from an enlightened minority within this sector who do see the necessity of short term hardship for potential longer term benefit, the majority of the fishing industry is campaigning for a dilution of such restrictions – despite the landing restrictions proposed falling way short of what is needed already. Some in the industry are for example using the arguments that they mangage to catch some bass, therefore the overall stocks is obviously fine, while the likes of the NFFO claims the response to be an “overreaction not justified by the science” – which given the known science AND the insufficient level of EU restrictions is an flawed argument twice over!
The bottom line is, the commercials have driven our bass stocks to the point of collapse, but now restrictions are proposed they are falling back on their familiar ploy of claiming statistics are flawed, whilst arguing they should be compensated for being prevented from landing the last remaining bass in our waters. If this sounds familiar from other species in the past, it is. For example just try replacing the word bass in this scenario for cod (or numerous other species around the globe). It’s a sad and predictable reaction BUT one nonetheless the commercial fishing sector have found in the past to be effective.
So what can we do? Well in the coming 2 weeks before the EU fisheries ministers meet to discuss the proposal we must be making much noise too. We need to begin to restore bass stocks, not merely slow the rate of any further decline. The proposals are already insufficient and further watering down if the commercials have their way will lead to even more critical situation for our bass. So to make our own noise we must continue to email the decision makers (even if you have done this before).
To do this is easy:
Send one email: Subject: “Sea Bass”, starting “Dear Fisheries Ministers, Members of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee and Fisheries Officials”. Then make your case which can be your own arguments or just demanding that the key points below from the BASS / Saveourseabass.org response to the proposals are followed (just cut and paste these in to your email ). The content is less important than the fact you contacted them! The main points (if you want guidance) are:
KEY POINTS IN RESPONSE TO THE PROPOSED EU MEASURES FOR BASS
Cut 2016 landings to 541 tonnes, as recommended by the scientists.
Allocate fishing opportunities based on environmental and socio-economic criteria, as required by Article 17, Common Fisheries Policy.
Commercial and recreational fishing for bass should be restricted to rod & line and hand lines only. We believe this is the only possible way in which landings can be cut to 541 tonnes in 2016 whilst respecting Article 17.
Implement a complete ban on commercial targeting of pre-spawning and spawning aggregations of bass.
All the measures need to be extended to the Bay of Biscay (to avoid displacement fishing.)
Finally just cut and paste these addresses into the “To” line of your email and its job done.
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Marianne.Huusko-Lamponen@formin.fi; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Marian.Jurecka@mze.cz; Jan.Vanin@enviro.gov.sk; Minister@agriculture.gov.ie; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Kristine.Purina@zm.gov.lv; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; PECHfirstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Delyth.Dyne@defra.gsi.gov.uk; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Info@zuv.lt; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Then its fingers crossed for EU fisheries Ministers meeting in mid-December with the knowledge that we at least have personally tried to make a difference for our bass! …. And if you really want to make even more impact, ask fellow anglers, interested family members and friends to do the same.
Thanks as always for your support.
Matt Spence and the BASS Blog Team