South Wales Evening Post

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Last chance to log concerns about bass

“MANY local anglers will be aware that some three years ago dedicated bass anglers, both boat and shore, came together to merge their concerns over large inshore trawlers and their effect on the Bristol Channel, especially within the six-mile limit.

Approximately four vessels held grandfather historic rights as 15-metre-long vessels which allowed them to trawl almost up to the high water mark.

For many years there has been a decline in the Bristol Channel of the larger bass, and while it may seem unfair to put the total blame on these trawlers, they must have made a considerable contribution to the reduction of the bass stock, plus other species such as plaice, dabs and rays, which also seem to have declined in stock.

Some anglers will be aware that these vessels operated with little or no enforcement as the view of the then South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee was that they were operating quite legally and that there did not seem to be any need for enforcement.

While that was the opinion of some at that time when bass and inshore commercial boats got together because of their concerns about the decline in the number of species, their complaining brought about a very limited amount of enforcement that did result in prosecutions.

Since the lobbying of recreational sea anglers and commercial inshore fishermen, the Welsh Assembly Government has responded by issuing a consultation process under the heading “Review of the Exceptions to Regulations Regarding the Maximum Lengths of Fishing Boats in the 0–6 nm zone”.

The vision of the Wales Fishery Strategy published in 2008 is to support the development of viable and sustainable fisheries in Wales as an integral part of coherent policies for safeguarding fish stocks and the marine environment.

Part of the regulation in place to assist with the achievement of that vision involves the prohibition in certain areas of the 0–6 nm zone using boats that are in excess of certain size limits.

Indeed, Moody International undertook an MSC assessment report for the Bristol Channel bass trawl fishery, which, I believe, also took in species such as rays.

Their assessment concluded that the fishery was unsustainable.

In conclusion, all inshore commercial fishermen using small trawlers will now have the opportunity to access the WAG website and offer an opinion as to what should be done about these large trawlers and whether you support their exclusion from fishing within six miles.

Log on HERE before February 2 to give your views. Don’t miss this opportunity to support our bass.”

Lyndon Lammas