Letter to Minister re MLS

[We quote below the content of a letter sent to Ben Bradshaw, MP, Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, as a result of his recent decision to suspend the proposed increase in the bass minimum landing size (MLS) to 40cms. This was due to take effect on 6 April 2007.]

Dear Mr Bradshaw,

I was extremely disappointed at your recent decision not to implement a 40cm mls for bass from 6th April 2007.

My understanding is that you have delayed this decision pending the examination of more information on the issue of bass discards from the small number of trawlers, who currently target immature bass.

Given that you have on numerous occasions publicly stated that the introduction of a 40cm mls is a conservation measure, designed to improve the quality of bass stocks for sea anglers and commercial fishermen using sustainable methods, I am struggling to understand why discards of undersized bass are an issue ? Surely, if the 40cm mls is a conservation measure, then it is essential that those commercial fishermen, who currently target undersized bass, no longer target undersized and immature bass? Is this not what conservation means?

I am confident that you are not the sort of Minister who is easily bullied by a minority of vociferous commercial fishermen, seeking to protect their own short term interests, with little regard for other stakeholders, or for the long term stability and improvement of bass stocks.

I would hope that your delay in introducing the 40cm mls is just a delay and nothing more sinister. I would also hope that once you have reviewed the evidence of just how many thousands of immature bass are caught each year, it will further convince you of the desperate need to take a strong stance and introduce a bass mls, which will benefit the majority of users of the resource and build resilient bass populations for future generations.

John Leballeur
Chairman
Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society
BASS Restoration Project.