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Benefits to Anglers Unclear

Oct 04,2006 SACN


Following the announcement that the bass mls was to be increased by just 4cm to 40cm, SACN wrote to the Fisheries Minister, Ben Bradshaw to inform him of the bitter disappointment the decision had caused to a large number of our members.

We also pointed out that a 4cm increase would hardly be noticeable to anglers, and fell far short of the 45cm needed to ensure that a female bass will have spawned at least once before being taken, a fundamental objective of the proposal and supported by the scientific advice in the original Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA).

In the reply, recieved from the DEFRA department dealing with the consultation today, DEFRA have written:

"We are aware of the opinion of some in the angling community, as reported in your letter, that the measure is not bold enough.

However, the RIA concluded that an increase to 45cm would be difficult to justify at present.

The benefits to anglers (in particular to shore anglers, who make up over 50% of angling groups) were not clear and there would have been a substantial cost to the fishing industry)"

There is an opinion expressed by the catching sector that bass over 36cm move offshore, despite the experience of anglers before bass became a species of interest to the catching sector in the 1980s, of reasonable catches of larger bass from the shore.  (Even now some larger fish are still taken by anglers at less than 100 yards from the shore).

DEFRA are unable to say how many kilometres of bass netting is deployed inshore, nor the average soak times of that netting. (So they have no idea of the amount of effort deployed to capture inshore bass at just 36cm).

But it is apparent that the inshore bass stock is being efficiently 'trimmed' at just 36cm, leading to the false belief that all larger bass move offshore, and that a raising of the mls would mean that inshore netters and anglers would not catch any fish that they could retain.

It is no wonder that with the inshore stock being efficiently 'sieved' at 36cm, that this perception has arisen.

That is the problem that the proposals were meant to fix!

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"There would have been a substantial cost to the fishing industry"

Official DEFRA figures show landings of bass for the UK fleet in 2004 were just £3.2 million.

That figure was inflated to £7.5 million for the purpose of the consultation to include the undeclared landings of the under 10 metre fleet etc.

But even then it doesn't come close to the £100 million value of the Recreational Bass Fishery, nor the potential to increase the value of that fishery.

(Following the recovery of the USA Recreational Striped Bass Fishery  between 1981 and 1996 the consequential expenditure increased from $85 million to $560 million over the same period by anglers fishing for striped bass).

Once again DEFRA have shown that they are fixated on the concerns of the remnants of a declining fishing industry, and are simply unable to grasp the considerable potential  benefits of creating a first class recreational fishery in the inshore waters of the UK.

Leaving 1 million (perhaps as many as 2 million) Recreational Sea Anglers, and the thousands of businesses and livelihoods dependent on the sector,  dumbfounded at their lack of vision.

And left with a deep feeling of betrayal.

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And the National Federation of Fisheremen's Organisations are arranging a meeting on the 5th October to launch a campaign to have the decision overturned!

With donations already coming in to a fighting fund, they hope to form an action committee and plan a campaign to overturn the decision of even a miniscule increase, and to oppose other proposals such as additonal protection for tope. 

It is expected that the Welsh Assembly Government will announce their own decision on proposals to increase the mls for bass within Welsh waters later this month.

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Anglers who wish to make their own views known by contacting their MP and DEFRA can find contact details   h e r e

(You can also leave your comments by clicking on the 'comments' tab at the very bottom of this page) 



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