It’s been a long and very frustrating wait since the EU Commission announced in January 2015 that it would introduce further measures restricting commercial bass fishing, but finally on Wednesday 20th May the EU Commission issued a draft Regulation for Vessel Catch Limits. And as a very welcome surprise, the draft Regulation also proposes a complete ban on EU commercial fishing for bass in ICES division IV b,c and Vii d,e,f and h, i.e. most of the waters around Ireland (previously Ireland’s unilateral ban on commercial bass fishing only applied to Irish vessels, not to other EU vessels).
The draft regulation sets out different monthly Vessel Catch Limits for each metier:
1.0 tonne per month for: all drift net and fixed (trammel) net fisheries;
1.5 tonnes per month for: mid-water or pelagic trawls; and all types of demersal trawls including Danish / Scottish seines
3.0 tonnes per month for: purse seines
Not enough information has been provided yet to allow us to judge the likely effectiveness of the proposals, but the EU Commission says: “the monthly catch limits will have an average impact of decreasing sea bass catches for pelagic trawlers by approximately 60 %, for hooks and line fisheries by 7%, for demersal vessels by 28%. The “big” impact on sea bass comes from pelagic and demersal trawling and seines, so any meaningful recovery proposal has to contain significant reductions here. The proposal takes into account that the artisanal hooks and line fisheries as well as the gill net fisheries depend on sea bass to a greater extend and do not have other alternatives to catch.”
NB These proposals are not yet a done deal – they need to be agreed by the EU Member States and we understand that they will be discussed at the EU Council Working Party on Thursday 28 May.