Harmonisation of Northern Ireland Bass Legislation

In 2010 new legislation was proposed in Northern Ireland to adopt the same protection measures for bass stocks as exist in the Republic of Ireland. This legislation is still in the pipe line.

A loophole has arisen in the proposed legislation which effects the crucial ‘Prohibition of the Sale of Bass’ rule introducing a clause which allows for bass caught accidentally by trawlers to be landed and marketed as allowable bycatch.

This loophole was clearly introduced as an appeasement to commercial fishermen and leaves the door wide open for any wild bass found in the supply chain – fishmonger, restaurant – as being attributed to trawl by-catch irrespective of whether it actually originated from a gill net or commercial rod and line. There is also a thin excuse that allowing landings of trawler caught bass will help in future bass stock assessments.

What makes this clause so bizarre is that only miniscule numbers of bass are caught by NI trawlers, a fact corroborated by the Consultation documents. For example – in 2010 the value of bass landings amounted to just £1,591 which represents a mere 0.004% of total NI fishery landings (£35.25 million) so a complete cessation of commercial bass landings is of no consequence to trawlers, but leaves open the door to commercial fishing none the less.

The BASS Restoration team feel it is time to once again make written representations in the hope that the proposed legislation will be moved forward, with this clause removed, because it really would be a truly significant achievement to have a species effectively designated wholly recreational in any part of the UK.

To assist you, we have provided below two example letters covering the key points. The first is a “key points” version and the second teases out some of the detail more fully.

At the end you will find contact details for the Minister and Review Committee Members.

Ideally, we would like every recipient of this communication to familiarise themselves with all the issues and to write in their own words to all members of the Committee, however, we also appreciate that many will not have the time to do this.

Even a brief letter of one paragraph is better than making no representation at all. Achieving recreational status for a sea fish in UK waters, is a crucially important goal towards changing the existing culture amongst fisheries managers.

PLEASE WRITE A LETTER IN SUPPORT OF THE PROPOSALS TO HARMONISE BASS LEGISLATION WITH THAT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND, COVERING AS MANY OR AS FEW OF THE POINTS AS YOU ARE ABLE.

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO THE MINISTER AND ALSO SEND COPIES TO AS MANY COMMITTEE MEMBERS AS POSSIBLE [at least three or four selected at random] SO AS TO INCREASE THE CHANCES OF A FULL DISCUSSION AMONGST THE COMMITTEE.

There is also a survey available at: Sea Angling in Northern Ireland  that is not directly related to bass but which you are encouraged to complete.

Key Points Sample Letter

Longer Sample Letter

Minister and Review Committee Contact Details

 

The critical point to bear in mind is:

Even a brief letter of one paragraph is better than making no representation at all. Achieving recreational status for a sea fish in UK waters, is a crucially important goal towards changing the existing culture amongst fisheries managers.