[The following article, covering an interview with Stephan Beaucher, Vice President of Collectif Bar Europeén (CBE), the French equivalent of BASS, appeared in the French magazine, Le Marin, on 24 June 2005. ]

Internet – Bass Lobbies are very active

Far from the activities of global ecology, Greenpeace or WWF, very specialised lobby groups are now using the net to pass on their ideas. Notably to protect bass.

“If the internet did not exist, there would be no Collectif Bar Europeén (CBE) admits Stephan Beaucher, Vice President of the CBE . It’s the ideal medium to display and broadcast one’s ideas widely and a very efficient form of lobbying at the disposal of any eco-citizen. A cyber petition from Guernsey to prohibit pelagic trawling for bass during the spawning period has, for example, collected 1,600 signatures in two weeks”.

A web page and a server for information and debate: recreational fishing makes use of modern means of communication to organise and defend its interests.

With less than ten specialised forums on the national and regional scale, France is not at the forefront in this field. “Forums are clearly more numerous and more specialised in the United States. For example, some are devoted to soft lure fishing for striped bass. Others, in respect of the same species, are only concerned with diving lures.”

A different management approach

What does one find on the CBE website ? ” Not much on fishing techniques but a lot of information on commercial fishing or the status of stocks,” deems Stephan Beaucher. “Our role is to inform decision makers and to appeal to the conscience of the general public regarding the problems facing bass. Like BASS, our English brothers in arms, we consider the minimum landing size of 36 cms to be manifestly inadequate and that the stock management (not based on quotas) is neither satisfactory nor sufficiently restrictive. The self limitation of pelagic vessels to 5 tonnes per boat per week is no more than a vague commitment. However , we do not want to restrict the resource to a single category of user, an approach currently undertaken by American sportfishing lobbies. They have implemented restrictions on commercial fishing over hundreds of kilometres in coastal areas for several species. This is especially the case in Florida.”

” Our position is more balanced” , he adds. “First and foremost, we act as a pressure and action group seeking new areas of consensus. We would like to see a different management approach for bass, which reserves access to the stock to sustainable methods, especially line fishing including for professional purposes. The idea is to achieve the maximum return from catches and to move away from production based exploitation, inappropriate for this small stock. To be precise, one must do away with trawling in this fishery and, first of all, stop trawling during the spawning season .”

Formed in 2001, the CBE has 120 members at the present time. Some commercial fishermen might be tempted to consider a membership of this size to be negligible. This would undoubtedly be a mistake. The CBE’s website averages 900 hits per week ” with an increase of 150 % since the beginning of the year, according to Stephan Beaucher. Concern over the size of the landings made by a revolving seiner (27 tons in one night in february) from Concarneau increased the number of visitors to this site. Their interest has not waned…..”