Further regulations to limit total amount of bass per month that each commercial vessel can land were recently announced by the EU (see here). It also seems, that with your help, the commercial fishing sector have failed to get the proposed increase to a 42cm minimum conservation reference size (MCRS) watered down to 40cm (saveourseebass.org). This 42cm minimum size will we are assured be rubber stamped in a week or so. These are further significant steps BUT we have STILL NOT achieved measures that will bring about anything near the full 80 % reduction the EU scientists at ICES recommended (e.g. see here). Having campaigned for better protection of our bass stocks for over 15 years I can take some heart from this, as things have moved forward far more in the past year that all of the previous decade and a half combined!

These latest measures bring far more balance to the overall restrictions, as after the previous 3 bag limit for anglers, this time it’s commercial fishing they most affect.

And on a further positive note, the EU has repeatedly indicated that further limits on bass landings will be formulated in 2016 once the effectiveness of the 2015 measures are understood.

In the past some have been critical of organisations such as BASS and Angling Trust and our campaigning for better protection of our bass. It is hard to fathom how these new changes would have come to be had anglers and other interested parties throughout Europe not petitioned the politicians to make the changes! It might have taken over 15 of trying but we have it seems passed the tipping point for getting the politicians to act. Whether this is enough to increase the stocks, or just (as it seems likely to me) all tolled the changes to date will only slow the rate of decline, only time will tell.

BASS would obviously love to see the full 80% reduction implemented right now given the findings on stocks of ICES. Given the defences in stand point between recreational angling and commercial fishing, the reality is that politicians will try to find a compromise in an attempt not to upset too many. They want all parties to feel they have won something, as (sadly) it’s votes, not the validity of arguments, that ultimately drives their actions. Anglers however taking their hit in the form of a 3 bag limit is in my opinion a compromise worth making IF it allows other measures to exists that will bring long-term benefits for our bass and our angling.

Will new reguations bring more catches like these?

Will new reguations bring more catches like these?

During the past 8 months since we ramped up this campaign we have repeatedly asked, begged or pleaded with you to lend your support – and so many of you have. Well further evidence that the letters and emails you write really so influence decision makers recently arrived at the savourseabass.org site in the form of an email from within the EU fisheries commission itself (the content is posted below).

So given all the above my view is it’s fair to summarise that:

• Our message IS getting through

• Our efforts are helping drive increased protection for our bass

• We are still far from getting sufficient measures to: reverse the decline in the bass population; restore the stock its ‘natural’ level; and manage it sustainably.

You ARE doing a great job and making a difference BUT we still have far to go!

Letter to savourseabass.org from Maja Kirchner. (Please note their promised “reply” is still pending and will be posted on saveourseabass.org when it arrives):

“I work in the fisheries conservation team with Mr. Bernhard Friess, Director in DG MARE, in the European Commission and am trying to get in touch with someone from your organisation. We in the European Commission have been very active in 2015 to put in place a package approach for sea bass that contains three crucial steps in order to stop the decline of this valuable stock.

We are also very encouraged by the many e-mails and the support we receive from recreational anglers who all want to make sure that good management measures are put in place for sea bass.

We would like to be proactive and provide you with a reply that we will draft which will answer to the concerns voiced by the angling community and would also like to inform everybody about the actions undertaken so far and what is still to come in 2015 and then in 2016 to ensure a better management of sea bass.

We would therefore like to ask you if you would be so kind as to post our reply as an official reply of the European Commission on your website….”

Maja Kirchner
DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries | Dir C Atlantic and outermost regions|
European Commission

Blogged by Matt Spence (all oppinions expressed here are those of the author alone)

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