The Southern IFCA is progressing it’s discussions regarding whether it ‘should’ increase the bass MLS. Though, as with any committee, these things are grindingly slow. It has recently been in touch with Graham Pickett (who has spent many years working on bass) and the relevant excerpt is below. Again we see (Environment Agency: Fish Monitoring in S & SD) concerns expressed regarding the effects of temperature on recruitment.

Excerpt from Southern IFCA minutes:

“Dr Jensen had been in touch with Dr G Pickett regarding his views on bass recruitment. Dr Pickett felt that the ICES Study Group report dated November 2011 had relied on 1990s data when recruitment had generally been good as winters had been ‘warm’; a key feature in the survival and so successful recruitment of post larval/juvenile bass to estuaries, many of which are designated as bass nursery areas. The ‘colder’ winters of the 2000s had affected the recruitment significantly, but as DEFRA and CEFAS had ceased surveys due to funding cuts there would be no continuation of survey data to learn from. Dr Pickett felt that the population was now in similar recruitment conditions to that of the 1980s when the minimum landing size (MLS) was raised to reduce recruitment overfishing and nursery areas were introduced. In 2007, there had been a proposal to increase the MLS nationally but that proposal got withdrawn at the last minute, allegedly by successful trawl fishery lobbying of the fisheries minister of the time. Dr Pickett was of the opinion that, given the changes in winter temperatures through the 2000s and the strength of the science behind the 2007 proposals, increasing the minimum landing size (MLS) to 40/45cm would increase the numbers of fish recruiting into the Channel fishery. Dr Pickett was of the opinion that with the current situation and MLS the commercial sector would see a decline in landings next year, linked to a reduced recruitment caused by ‘cold’ winters. Dr Pickett suggested encouraging the commercial sector to assist in a tagging program to identify local populations as it was his opinion that some ‘site loyalty’ could be seen in bass, some fish may return to the same summer feeding grounds each year.

Dr Jensen offered to research the previous papers used when the MS was to be increased in 2007. He hoped that in the future the IFCA environment team would be able to take on a simpler version of the CEFAS Solent bass survey which ended with the 08/09 survey. This could be taken forward, by initially contacting CEFAS for information and briefing notes. Members were of the opinion that increasing bass MLS be a national measure but were happy for Dr Jensen to make further enquiries.

BASS’s Nigel Horsman commented that:

It’s imperative that as many supporters as possible let the S.IFCA know their views; if they haven’t already.

The full minutes can be found here: S. IFCA-TAC minutes 24th May 2012

Other Southern IFCA items:

Southern IFCA consults on minimum landing sizes . . .

BASS Presentation to Southern IFCA