Specific Defra personnel dedicated to supporting and growing recreational Sea Angling
UK Recreational Sea Angling suffers by not having staff within Defra dedicated to supporting and growing sea angling. The growth potential of UK sea angling is huge, but it needs champions within Defra to ensure it gets the attention it needs.
Management goals must be set out clearly in legislation, so that the Government can be held to account on achieving those goals. There is no point in setting out “feel-good” goals that can be ignored if they become inconvenient.
The UK should aim to recover stocks to a more ambitious level than MSY. MSY does not even maximise economic return. MSY is not an appropriate management target for species that are long lived, slow growing and where year classes are highly variable and dependent on climate.
For stocks that are targeted by recreational anglers (such as bass, cod, mackerel, pollack, wrasse, etc) the UK should aim for abundance, making the UK an attractive destination for sea angling tourism by offering a good chance of catching fish and a good chance of catching a sizeable fish.
MCRS should be set at or above the spawning size.
Recreational angling should be protected from close inshore netting and trawling. This damages sensitive habitat and detracts from the quality of sea anglers’ fishing experience.
Commercial fishing allocations should be set after taking into account the mortality attributable to recreational sea fishing.
The public should have priority in UK fisheries.
The current dire bass stock is due in large part to overfishing. Sea anglers have watched commercial landings increase and sea anglers’ share of the bass catch decline from 70% in the 1970s.
The UK bass fishery should be permanently restricted to targeting by recreational sea anglers and commercial hook & liners. Illegal targeting of bass by fixed nets should be discouraged by introducing a 10% of catch limit on fixed netters in addition to a tightly controlled by-catch limit.
To date funding has only been made available to commercial fishermen. Going forward it should be available to support and grow recreational angling.
This might cover: the creation of artificial reefs, helping guides learn how to market their services, encouraging youth participation, habitat management, R&D support for UK tackle manufacturers, etc
Attention should be given to helping sea anglers access fishing sites. This would include affordable parking near fishing venues, affordable boat launching fees, access to piers, etc.
Gold standard fisheries management requires high quality landing data. All commercial landings should be recorded with no exception. This data should be publicly available in real time, as it is in Iceland.