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Bass MLS Decision Disappoints Anglers

Aug 11,2006 Leon Roskilly

Yesterday’s announcement that the Minimum Landing Size of bass will be increased just 4cm to 40cm, has come as a bitter blow to many Recreational Sea Anglers.

Many were hoping that the Minister, Ben Bradshaw, was about to deliver fully on the many statements issued recently by both himself, and his officials within DEFRA, that at last the government had acknowledged the potential value of the Recreational Sea Angling sector, and the interests of some 2 million participants in England and Wales, along with the many business opportunities and livelihoods dependent upon measures to fully develop the potential of the Recreational Sea Angling sector.

An increase in the size of fish available to anglers of just 4cm is going to be practically unnoticeable, and at 40cm those fish are unlikely to have had the opportunity to spawn before being taken by increasingly efficient and pervasive netting.
It doesn’t matter if a fish is taken at 10cm or 40cm, unless it reaches 45cm before becoming available to the dead fish market, it will not have spawned.

Once again the opportunity to develop a world class recreational fishery with relatively modest changes to the management of a developing fishery has been wasted.

Bass are a premier sports fish, that would normally live some 25 years, spawn 15 times and grow to perhaps 20lb or more, unlike the plate-sized baby fish now served on plates.

However, we recognise that the Minister has had to weigh a very difficult decision, and has clearly tried to balance the needs of different stakeholders, with differing needs and views.

Unfortunately our view is that he could have been much bolder, and achieved far more to the longer term benefit of everyone.

It now seems that any prospect of being able to recommend a future package that includes a sea angling licence or any form of bag limits on anglers to our membership or to the wider angling community will now be practically impossible.

SACN members, and the sea angling community in general, will be looking closely at the Government's response to other initiatives that are of particular interest to the RSA sector including:

- A DEFRA Strategy for the Development of RSA

- Early protection for tope and other elasmobranches

- 'Modernisation' of SFCs to include specific duties towards the development of Recreational Sea Fisheries

- Launch of the Mullet Management Plan, and management plans for other species of high recreational value

- Delivery of the 'Golden Mile'

- Effective Government support for the protection for bass extended into the EU

- Increase of bass mls to 55cm and a review sooner than 2010

SACN takes this opportunity to thank its members, and all who took the opportunity to respond to this consultation.

Especially all those who put so much effort into compiling information ,and the many other tasks that were needed to inform as wide an audience as possible of the need to respond.

(See also Good News or Bad News? )


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