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Bass Fight Kicks Off

Oct 12,2006 SACN


Behind front page headlines, this week's Fishing News (the weekly newspaper of the commercial fishing sector), Page 2 is filled with news and comment of the campaign plans of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations  (NFFO) to reverse the decision to increase the Minimum Landing Size (MLS) of bass. 

With an Action Committee formed, and a fighting fund established, the NFFO announced details of its plans: 

The campaign to overturn the increase in the bass MLS to 40cm will follow a systematic, focused and phased programme:

October/November 2006

The Action Committee will meet to co-ordinate the campaign.

Meetings will be sought with CEFAS scientist Mike Pawson and with Ben Bradshaw.

The meeting with Mike Pawson will challenge the spurious interpretation of scientific data being used to justify the increased MLS and to clarify various aspects in the scientific advice.

The meeting with the minister will alert him to the objectives of the bass campaign and press him to reconsider his decision.

The principal points to press home will be:

. That there will be no significant conservation benefit because the English and Welsh commercial catch represents a small fraction of the overall catch.

. The increase in MLS will lead to widespread discarding at a time when the EU has given priority to initiatives to reduce discards.

. The decision to increase MLS has been unduly influenced by the inflated claims of the angling lobby.

. The bass fishery is already harvested sustainably.

In association with the above, a local, regional and national media campaign will be organised focusing on:

. The widespread discarding that will result from the increased MLS.

. That the bass fishery is already harvested sustainably.

. That the measures only apply to the English commercial fleet.

. That French vessels, which catch around 75% of bass, will continue to be able to land bass between 36cm and 40cm into English ports if that is their wish. This is both unfair and discriminatory.

The committee will also make representation to MPs.

January/February 2007

A further meeting with Ben Bradshaw will be sought to emphasise the industry's concerns about the impending increase in MLS.

The rationale for transferring catches from the commercial fleet, which sustains livelihoods, to a recreational pastime will be challenged.

The campaign will state publicly its intention to take the government to Judicial Review, if its position remains unchanged by that date for the implementation in April 2007.

Throughout, the campaign will focus on the practical effects of the increased MLS:

. Minimal conservation benefit.

. Significant loss of ean ings and in some cases 10 of livelihood.

. A major increase in discarding.

. Denial of consumer access to plate-sized bass with a linked increase in the consumption of farmed bass associated with serious environmental concerns, not  least the use of industrial fish species.

You can keep up to date with the NFFO campaign by reading the:

NFFO Newsletters



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