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.
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