Members of BASS have campaigned tirelessly for years for the restoration of bass stocks. Now we’re calling on anybody with an interest in bass fishing (either directly or indirectly) to join the fight. So is there any point or is this just a waste of time and effort? Well, let’s look at some of the things which are happening at the moment, which I think point towards us reaching a tipping point in the fight to restore our bass stocks.
“I really think we’re gonna do it this time! I’m going to write to my MP” said Gary excitedly down the phone. He had been listening to Malcolm Gilbert’s excellent interview on Radio Cornwall that morning and the subsequent response from George Eustice , the Fisheries Minister. I was encouraged by the Minister’s response in stating that the UK Government recognises that we need more protection for bass, including the closure of spawning areas, increased MLS and looking at the use of nets, particularly in Estuaries. For a report on the BBC’s news website see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-28995033. All this stemmed from a meeting which a group of us in Cornwall held with our local MP – a meeting that made the local press.
Recently, BASS member Mick Larkin wrote to Julie Girling MEP and she took his concerns to the Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki. A very constructive flurry of correspondence was initiated by Mick that ended up with Maria Damanaki pointing to an EU Funding source (Horizon 2020) as a possible source of funds for a pan EU economic study – on a like for like basis so comparisons could be made — of both the recreational and commercial bass fisheries. All credit to Mick; it’s a wonderful example of how one angler can make a difference. Has Mick’s letter resulted in more and bigger bass? Obviously not, but if enough MEPs makes representation on behalf of RSA to the Commissioner, the Commissioner will soon smell the political necessity to take RSA more seriously.
So are there any other grounds for thinking that we might be turning a corner or are we deluding ourselves? Well, the signs are that sea angling is being taken more seriously. Attend your local IFCA meeting and the chances are they’re developing a Recreational Sea Angling strategy; you may even have been involved in developing the one for your area. Of course only time will tell how effective these will be but at least we’re starting to figure in fisheries policy making.
And the profile of RSA has never been higher. Just when we were getting tired of hearing that ‘hobby’ anglers (some commercials can’t bring themselves to call us RSA’s!) shouldn’t be treated with the same importance as commercials who make their living from fishing, the Sea Angling 2012 report comes along and paints a rather different picture!
Momentum is growing, just look at the excellent campaign which the Angling Trust is currently running and think what they might be able to achieve with more members (so why not join if you haven’t already):
BASS is currently finalising a plan for an action workshop in Bristol on 19th October. The aim of this is to give people the basic knowledge and confidence to enable them activly campaigners for bass stock restoration with IFCAs, MPs and others – full details to follow soon!
So it seems that our efforts to encourage people to write to their elected representatives about issues to do with fisheries and bass stocks is bearing fruit. I received a very possitive reply from one of my MEP’s in which Mrs Girling stated she had received many emails and that she was now making representations at an EU level becuse of these messages.
If you need any more motivation to write let me share this with you: a couple of weeks ago I had been having some really good fishing – I caught 20 fish to 5lb over just 4 sessions. I suppose this wouldn’t have been considered anything special 40 years ago when bass were hardly fished for commercially. Every one of these fish was returned alive in the name of bass conservation. A few nights later I was fishing with my mate Paul when a boat came right in to the rocks we were on, searchlight blazing, and laid a net right in front of us! Had the sacrifices I had made in returning those fish been in vain? Was I being a complete mug? No, rather than make me sacrifice my principles and join the mad rush to catch the last bass in the sea, it merely strengthened my resolve to get gill nets banned!
So come on, you can make a difference. Get writing. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just whatever you feel comfortable with; a simple plea from the heart can be very powerful.
Blogger: Robin Bradley