A report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) examining the economic, social and environmental “best value” of different methods of commercial bass fishing has just been published. It concludes that compared to trawling and fixed & drift nets, bass fishing with hook and line provides both the most jobs and highest price per kg of bass, whilst also being the least damaging to the marine environment.
The report contains much information of interest in Full report here: http://b.3cdn.net/nefoundation/1e5c0460a33f687ed8_i9m6vgug3.pdf
It is hard to ignore however, that this report only considers the best value in allocating bass resources between different commercial fishing types – a sector that continues to fight tooth and nail to remain unsustainable. While noting previous research claiming 20 percent of bass mortality comes from recreational angling (a figure seemingly based on very little data) AND reporting others have shown the economic worth of bass to be far higher per unit for recreational anglers over commercial fishermen, the NEF paper does not attempt to value angling in its analysis ( though it states the means to do so is available.) Reading between the lines, it is possible this decision rather than an oversight to include a principle stakeholder group, may actually have been driven by a lack of available quality data on landings from bass angling.
In the past year we have begun to seen a shift towards more mature attitudes to bass stock management. If we as anglers, with our excellent claims to be the stakeholders providing the best value from the resources, I believe we need to both encourage and assist with future attempts to accurately evaluate what we land. Then if our seemingly valid arguments are correct and landing data reflects what really is happening, we as anglers will be the principle benefactors when future resources are allocated on the basis of best value.
Going back to the NEF paper itself, for those of us who believe a line only bass fishery is the only way to achieve anything near the 90% reduction in landings the scientist state is needed, this report further strengthens our arguments.
Will those making decisions on both short-term emergency measures for 2016 and longer term measures for bass fishing take note of this? Well if you write and tell them of this they just might ( http://www.saveourseabass.org/en/urgent/ ).
Blogged by Matt Spence
(View expressed above are the personal opinions of the author)