New bass regulations fail to properly protect the bass stocks, prevent anglers from keeping any bass they catch for 6 months a year, yet allow commercial gill netters to continue to catch bass AND with an increased monthly limit.

If you want to express your anger and demand a fair deal for bass and anglers, then the demonstration on the 9th April in Camborne is the place to be. The protest is aimed at the DEFRA minister responsible for our fisheries; the person who claimed the deal he helped secure (which ignored the scientific advice on necessary bass landing reductions) was a great deal for commercial fishermen – he wasn’t wrong!

We meet at Rosewarne car park Camborne (TR14 8BE) at 10 am and march to local constituency office of George Eustice MP, the Fisheries Minister. The media will be there. Wearing you fishing attire and bringing rods is encouraged to add impact – but is far from essential. Banners will also help (but messages contained on them should be polite!) Suggestions for placards include: “A FAIR deal for Bass and Anglers”; “Priority for hook and line fishing”; “Bass are a PUBLIC resource” etc.

It doesn’t matter at all whether you belong to the Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers (the protest organisers), nor does it make a difference if you are from Cornwall or from further afield (I for one plan to travel with others from Bristol). All that matters is you have a wish to express your displeasure at the current measures. So for the sake of our future bass angling and our bass please try and add to the ranks and join us.

Bass Protest Logo


The reason why usually apathetic anglers have finally become so enraged is brilliantly explained by long-time angling campaigner and BASS member Leon Roskilly who has kindly allowed me to reproduce his thoughts in the brief article below. Leon is the most reasonable, mild mannered, non-radical of men. When the likes of Leon have finally had enough however, you just know things have really gone too far:

How did DEFRA get it so wrong on Recreational Sea Angling?

Even after years of talking to anglers, a number of reports all confirming that far more people go sea fishing than anyone ever expected and even more surprising, having seen the evidence showing the value of sea angling to the economy, the improved health and wellbeing of those who go sea angling, and the number of jobs dependent on the recreational sea angling sector, DEFRA appear not to believe that sea angling has much to do with what they really do.

A succession of DEFRA ministers responsible for fisheries have grasped the political importance of the angling lobby and some have made efforts to have angling recognised within DEFRA fisheries, but only to the extent of keeping the lid on and maintaining the status quo whilst DEFRA Fisheries goes about its core business of dealing with commercial fisheries.

Promises of reviews, drawn out whilst evidence is gathered and finally reports left on shelves to gather dust. Assurances given and forgotten. Priorities changed as administrations changed and assigned officials moved on to be replaced by someone with no real knowledge of the sector.

The sky didn’t fall in on anyone’s career.

It seemed that anglers could sometimes be a noisy lot, full of bark but no bite.

In the wheeling and dealings of the December Council of Ministers, the minister must have felt comfortable agreeing to a zero bag limit for recreational bass fishers. After all catch and release was widely practised anyway. George “Anglers are always moaning” Eustace winning agreement to allow C&R angling to continue, no doubt expected praise for winning such a concession for anglers.

Perhaps if the moratorium on catching bass had been applied to everyone, they may have gotten away with it.

But they went on to not only excuse ‘low impact’ fixed gill-netters from 4 months of the moratorium, when their catches are highest in the period, but also increased their catch limits by a third.

In effect they were telling anglers to put back any critically endangered bass that they might catch so that they can be netted and sold.

There always was an anger within angling that stocks were being fished down for commercial gain, moving first one species then another into the need for restrictive management measures whilst scarcity spoiled the angling experience, threatening not only anglers’ enjoyment, but those many livelihoods dependent upon the anglers’ spend.
But I’ve never experienced such anger as I see now.

A healthy stock that was of no commercial interest until the chefs discovered ‘sea bass’ and the netsmen went all out to fulfil demand, expanding the market until they exceeded the ability of the slow-growing and late maturing species to keep pace.

A healthy stock that was a mainstay of recreational sea angling and the many jobs that sea angling supports commercially fished beyond its natural limits.

And then anglers were told that they must return any they catch, not for any real conservation benefit, but so that netters can fish an increased catch limit.

For the first time in my experience ordinary anglers are preparing to demonstrate, to tell DEFRA “We’ve had enough”. “Those fish are a public resource and we are entitled to a fair share’, “The jobs and businesses we support are every bit as important as unsustainable jobs in the fishing industry”. “Treat us as we deserve to be treated, treat the recreational fish stocks on which we depend as they deserve to be treated and see what a positive impact that will have”.

On April 9th anglers will be marching.


Irish Protest

Anglers protesting in Ireland last week

  1. Perhaps this is it – the stupidest decision ever taken from a fisheries minister – which will finally draw out the anger from a previously dormant angling fraternity and stimulate enough of a backlash that something positive will have to be done. DEFRA do represent the commercial sector, always have and probably always will. It’s a mistake believing there’s any will to do the right thing by the species let alone for recreational anglers, nobody in power really gives a stuff.
    Good luck for the march, I hope you get tens of thousands supporting you which ultimately I think is the sort of number required to raise an eyebrow. Then another march a week later to London perhaps.

  2. I would really like to go but can’t go as I’m at work . Let me now when the next one is

  3. Dear Sir/Madam.
    My name is Terry Johnson i Live In Ilfracombe N. Devon I have been a sea fisherman for over 53 years why don’t you leave us alone this note is to all the people at defra.

  4. If only we had more notice of this demonstration we could have organised many more people who I know would have attended. Maybe this could be the template for something much bigger again later in the year with much more advertisement, national, and local communication? There are many clubs, societies, tackle shops and tackle manufacturers that could be mobilised with enough time and information.

  5. Outrageous action by Eustice. I have written to my MP, Geoffrey Cox to complain and have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement. The party that claim the ‘we are all in this together’ are looking after their own … again!

    Well done for organising this – I would love to have been with you but it was a bit short notice.

  6. Hi I have just seen this thing about the bass fishing & I think it is disgusting to know that commercial boats are allowed to mess up the sea beds when they should be Fitted WITH Stock Control devices, unlike the Beach angler & his rods who only take the right size hope this moaning Helps Pete .

  7. Geoffrey Cox MP has now replied to my letter and has given a full reply. He agrees the restrictions could cost the leisure industry thousands of pounds. He has spoken with the Minister since the debate but concludes that nothing can be done as hands are tied by the EU.
    The EU acted on behalf of bass stock and it was George Eustice who negotiated the loophole for the commercial boys. Surely the Government could change this?

  8. The Camborne Demo was a stunning achievement and the Cornish Federation should be wholeheartedly applauded for organising it.

    Was it an indication that sea anglers/RSAs are now prepared to accept the compromises required to build a representative organization capable of delivering the political impact of the large block vote needed to improve their sea fishing ?

    An organization that would be able to reply when questioned about its capacity to represent sea anglers ” We represent 100,000 members”

  9. Geoffrey Cox sums it all up

    His hands are tied by the EU !!

    Time to stand up to them by voting leave,I watched Paxman on the BBC last night and could not believe how incompetent the EU Parliament is and how our 11 MEPs are outvoted when ever they try to pass anything to benefit the UK.Their fishing lobbies are stronger than ours and benefit from raping our Seas and Oceans as the have already devastated their own.We export whelks out of Ilfracombe to South Korea so why not our other products?

  10. Our as well as their,commercial fishing lobbies appear to be pretty strong too. I recollect the way the then Fisheries Minister Mr Shaw was persuaded, allegedly, to cancel the draft legislation which his predecessor Mr Bradshaw had prepared to increase the MLS for bass in UK waters 2007. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the mils for bass was first increased to 42 cm, albeit at the time for angling only, in France.

    Is the EU the problem or is the power given to the fisheries lobbies by the management system the root cause of the problem – to which could be added RSA’s inability to get its act together politically?

    I might have been persuaded to vote leave had it not been for the fact that UKIP per its sea bass booklet entitled: ” Condemned to Death” supports drift netting for bass.

  11. I meant to say the EFDD, the EU group to which UKIP belongs .

    For those who haven’t read the EFDD’s sea bass booklet ” Condemned to Death by trendy diners”- after confirming that Ireland banned commercial bass fishing in 1990 the following passage appears on page 16.

    ” However, we must ensure that the bass fishery is not reserved for recreational use alone. It is important that small-scale fishermen in the UK can continue to fish for bass because they fish in a sustainable way and also depend on it.

    For example along the Sussex Coast there is both an inshore and offshore drift net fishery for bass. The offshore driftnet fishery for bass operates approximately 10 miles from shore and is primarily conducted at night by vessels under 10 metres in length between October and January. Drift netting for bass is extremely important to fishing livelihoods in the Sussex region. As bass is a non-quota species, it allows fishermen to supplement income lost from reduced catches of other species. ( due to restricted quota).”

    In contrast, the UK Government and the Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, seems to support gill net fishing. Is gill netting more or less sustainable than drift netting?

    EU membership didn’t stop Southern Ireland banning commercial bass fishing in 1990 and the EU has apparently recently extended the impact of the bass legislation in Southern Ireland to the vessels of other EU Member States operating in Southern Irish waters.

    I find it difficult to make up my mind on Brexit ,but on bass conservation measures, though not necessarily benefiting angling, I see “remain” front by a short head.

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