Like buses, you wait ages for one bass conservation measure and then two come at once! The big news this week is that, following close on the heels of the EU Commission’s proposal for Vessel Catch Limits, the EU Commission has issued a proposal to increase the bass Minimum Conservation Reference Size (previously known as Minimum Landing Size) from 36cm to 42cm.

A Joint Advisory Council workshop in Paris on Tuesday spectacularly failed to reach any consensus on responding to the EU Commission on the Vessel Catch Limits or MCRS increase proposals, but the commercials’ view was that the MCRS should be raised to 40cm and then there should be a review of biological and socio economic impacts and a further increase to 42cm only if necessary. This has been picked up by Alain Cadec, President of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries (PECH) who says on his blog that he has challenged Karmenu Vella (EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) on the move to 42cm as being too radical and that the fishermen need time to adapt. Interesting that the commercials’ proposal would entail two changes of gear whereas previously they have argued that even a single change of gear would cause untold economic hardship.

Additionally the commercials want the Vessel Catch Limits to be for 3 month periods, not monthly, so that if they have a bad month they can catch up by hammering bass in the other two.

Netting of pre-spawning aggregations occurs inshore too

At BASS we have long campaigned for a MCRS /MLS of 48cm to give the bass a year after they reach maturity to ensure they have the chance to breed at least once. The 42cm figure is barely acceptable as a stepping stone to 48cm, but the 40cm figure is a farce, given it would NOT even allow a bass to reach maturity, let alone give it time to produce a new generation of bass.

Despite these steps being in the right direction, the EU Commission’s actions to date and new proposals will not achieve anything remotely approaching the 80% reduction in landings in 2015 that the EU’s own scientists state is needed to save our bass stocks from collapse. The bottom line is that more protection measures are urgently needed.

We have about 6 weeks to lobby for the EU Commission proposals to be adopted as currently drafted, without the commercials’ suggested amendments. This is about the survival of our bass.

Another email campaign is being prepared – watch this space and make sure you have your say!

Words: David Curtis

  1. Who are these commercials that say 42 CM is too high ??? I’ve not to met one yet !!

    I work alongside the Hook and Line commercial fleet and everyone agrees that the majority of Bass they land are over 42 cm anyway. I can only assume that the guys grumbling are the ones targeting Bass in and around nursery areas . The very people this much needed increase is designed to control

    Ignore the retorick and get on with the job that needs doing . The commercials will thank us in the long run

  2. Dear Sirs, please listen to what is being said before it’s too late. It’s the commercial fishermen that are not giving this wonderful fish a fighting chance of breeding! Greed has taken over and we need to share the same laws as Ireland. As soon as the Bass start showing in my area, they are blitzed by the commercial fishing boats and it’s so sad that they are just allowed to get away with it!!! Greed will eventually wipe out the wonderful Bass we have in our waters!
    Kind regards
    John W Dansie

  3. These guys are worse than FIFA, is Alain Cadec any relation to Blatter?

  4. It is time to stop this madness. The bass population must be given every chance to breed and grow.

    I was once told by a French fishing guide that he could see no time when the low mls would be increased. They reason he gave was that French housewives like small bass as they easily fit in their frying pans.
    Consequently the market for 36cms bass is huge.

    Are we goin o let this marvellous fish dwindle away to nothing because of archaic culinary ideas?

  5. I have limited time but what would you recommend as the best thing I can do single handedly to push for what we as anglers know is right? Can my local MP really put much influence on this?

  6. Probably not Nathaniel – but you could write an email to DEFRA and urge them to fight tooth and nail for the full 42cm. Its important they know the strength of feeling among those who do want to reverse the decline

  7. why oh why don’t we have an upper size limit farmers don’t kill their breading stock

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