The output from the STECF (Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries) Summer Plenary, which (amongst other issues) were asked to consider possible measures for bass are now available at:

The Final Report comments upon a range of measures, including bag limits, and catch and release for recreational fishermen.  (search on ‘bass’)

More information about the issues around bass are given amongst the background documents.

The EAA commented on its Facebook page

“Sea bass – report from the STECF plenary meeting 7-11 July published: 46th PLENARY MEETING REPORT OF THE SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND ECONOMIC COMMITTEE FOR FISHERIES (PLEN-14-02)

The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) is fisheries management adviser to the European Commission. At the plenary meeting a number of issues were dealt with including the management of sea bass (page 48 onwards).

The bass chapter makes good but also worrying reading. For example this management measure is mentioned:

“Consideration could be given to the introduction of compulsory catch and release for recreational fisherman….”

No, it should not be considered. But that is what you would expect from an institution (STECF), which obviously is overly dominated by commercial fisheries educated and considered scientists having limited knowledge about the recreational fishing community, the recreational fishers’ (anglers’) motivations, the anti-anglers’ agendas and arguments and the socio-economic value of the recreational bass fisheries, which provide more economy and jobs than does the commercial bass fisheries.

It is about time that the European Commission and its advisers open their eyes and accept that there are other fisheries stakeholders than commercial fishermen and that a lot of small communities and businesses are dependent on these (recreational) stakeholders.

It is also about time – and the right time (the CFP implementation process) – that the European Commission makes sure that the management system is able to adjust minimum landing sizes and consequently the net mesh sizes not only downwards but also upwards to secure more spawning size fish in the waters. The poor recruitment, which sea bass suffers is likely (also) a result of the EU minimum landing size (36 cm), which is set below bass’ spawning size. The EU fisheries management system must be able to – and the managers must have the courage to – when needed to cut short the usual counter-arguing against increased fish size and mesh size, The STECF report has this:

“Increases in mesh size and/or avoidance of juvenile areas would be required for example, but the implications for catches of other species taken in the fisheries need to be considered.”

Problem is that mixed fisheries is common in EU (too common you could argue), that this has been an argument in itself against much needed management measures. So “considering” the consequences of mesh increases almost always ends with nothing happens.

Improved selectivity of fishing gear and fishing practises is the way forward. It would make the fisheries more “managable” in that it would reduce mixed fisheries, and also reduce the problem with the so-called “choke species” in the quota fisheries. But then again you’ll hear the counter-argument “the implications for catches of other species taken in the fisheries need to be considered”.

EAA lobbied the CFP to have recreational fishing recognised on an equal footing with commercial fisheries and aquaculture. The European Parliament agreed with us but the European Council did not. So it still is and continues to be an uphill batlle for us to secure anglers’ interests within this management system, which is made for commercial fisheries management and development only.

USA’s “CFP” is the ‘Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act’

That USA “CFP” makes commercial and recreational fisheries equally important, for example like this:

“Commercial and recreational fishing constitutes a major source of employment and contributes significantly to the economy of the Nation.”

Something EU could learn from.

EAA’s latest bass position paper (10 June) is available here: