The Angling Trust’s Sussex Marine Region has launched a campaign to recognise the importance of one of Sussex’s most iconic sea fish species – the black bream.
Anglers travel from all over the country to Sussex in order to spend money fishing for this magnificent-looking, hard-fighting and delicious sea fish species.
Yet despite its status as one of Sussex’s most highly prized and respected angling species it remains totally unmanaged. Over the years anglers have seen a decline in the quality and abundance of bream as unsustainable commercial fishing pressure has taken its toll on vulnerable breeding and nesting bream stocks.
The Kingmere Reef, a key black bream breeding site, has been put forward as a recommended Marine Conservation Zone which could potentially see the species protected there at least, but it is only a very limited area, and would just be for a few weeks a year.
The Angling Trust’s Sussex Marine Region’s campaign aims to go much further and:
- Highlight the black bream as one of Sussex’s most valuable natural assets.
- Highlight the socio-economic value to Sussex of recreational angling for black bream.
- Ensure that recreational angling is fairly represented in decisions over the management of the Kingmere MCZ.
- Identify other important black bream breeding sites in Sussex.
- Introduce a long term species management plan for black bream in Sussex waters that benefits ALL stakeholders.
To start the campaign the Sussex Marine Region of the Angling Trust has adopted the black bream into its logo and is working with anglers and other organisations is Sussex to recognise black bream as the ‘county fish’ of Sussex.
The importance of black bream to Sussex anglers was highlighted at meetings held by the Angling Trust over the last 12 months to consult with local anglers. In addition, a survey of anglers conducted in 2005 identified black bream as the second most important species to recreational sea anglers along the Sussex coast.
By working together with conservation groups, commercial fishing groups, local businesses and the Sussex IFCA we intend to make sure that everyone in Sussex benefits from better management of one of the County’s most valuable natural assets.
Tim Macpherson, representative of the Angling Trust Sussex Marine region said, “The Black Bream is one of Sussex’s most important species and is not properly managed. We intend to put pressure on the Sussex Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority to manage the stock in a responsible, sustainable way and prevent commercial fishing methods destroying sensitive black bream breeding sites. We also want to make sure anglers have a full say in the process of deciding how any MCZs in Sussex, including the Kingmere Reef, are managed.”
Reg Phillips, also of the Sussex Marine region said, “On its own, an eight week closed season on the Kingmere will do nothing to protect Black Bream. All it will do is tick a box for conservation and mask over the real problems this magnificent fish species has to endure. We now have the opportunity to ensure the whole community can see this valuable marine asset, this natural jewel of Sussex, through the eyes of anglers and manage it for future generations to enjoy and admire.“
Angling Trust ambassador and well-known sea angling journalist Jim Whippy is supporting the campaign and said, “Black Bream is a very important species for Sussex anglers. The Kingmere Reef, and other breeding and aggregation sites in Sussex waters need to be properly managed and protected to ensure these great sport fish are there for future generations to enjoy.”
David Mitchell, the Angling Trust’s Marine Campaigns Manager said, “This is about local people looking after a local asset that’s important to them and their community. If we were campaigning to protect or manage a bird or butterfly species in the Sussex Countryside it would be easier to engage the public, but because it’s a little-known sea fish species the black bream gets little attention, despite being a beautiful fish with an incredible life cycle. This campaign is intended to change that perception.”
To find out more about the campaign, including a short film, and about how you get involved click here.