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European Bass Stocks Under Threat

Feb 17,2009 SACN

BASS Press Release

European Bass Stocks Under Threat

Decline Alarms Anglers

UK anglers will soon start to see a disastrous decline in both the number and size of bass available in the important and valuable Recreational Fishery.

That is the conclusion from studies that show an alarming reduction in the number of juvenile fish coming into Southern nursery areas indicating a collapse in recruitment in recent years.

And if that isn't bad enough, this harsh winter could very well have wiped out most of the young fish expected to have recently entered the nursery areas.

“Typically young bass will spend four or five years growing in protected shallow inshore areas” said John Leballeur, Chairman of the BASS Restoration Project team.

“And it’s not until those fish leave the nursery areas and spread out around the coast that anglers and fishermen will notice that there are far fewer young fish joining the fishery to replace those now being taken as adults in the commercial fishery.”

Bass are a non-quota species and are not subject to any significant controls on the total amount that can be landed by the commercial fishing fleet.  With fishermen struggling to operate within reduced quotas for other species, available stocks of mature fish are now being fished down.

“With little hope of strong replenishment, the future isn't looking too positive” said John Leballeur.

Hopes that these problems are local to the UK have been dashed by reports that the same concerns are now being expressed by anglers in Europe.

An item posted on a French angling website illustrates their concerns. 

Some news from last year with a decline in Bass landings of line caught fish of 40% on the Breton markets, "Peche au Bar" are questioning current evaluation of the stock (2000 & 2006), concerned about the exploitation and targeting of larger breeding stock, and the general malaise that is all too familiar to us. They propose a close season from February to March.

"In these conditions, the line fishermen require implementation of a stock assessment worthy of the name, and that they identify a number of parameters affecting that stock : catches of course, but also recruitment, disturbances in the coastal zone, impact of sonar emissions, degradation of the quality of water etc..…" (Source: Pêche au Bar.com http://www.pointe-de-bretagne.fr/ )

In response to such concerns within Europe, John Leballeur was invited to address a meeting of European Anglers in Amsterdam last year on measures that can be implemented to protect the European Recreational Bass Fishery and is working with the European Anglers Alliance to convene a European-wide workshop to address the problems and consider the measures needed to restore the Bass Fishery.

“With generally warming seas, we should be seeing a significant increase in both the number and size of bass in our inshore waters, not a decline” said John Leballeur.

 “The reason that isn’t happening is  because of the wilful failure of fishery managers to address the issues simply because they find it politically difficult to do so when the commercial fleet is suffering from the consequences of over-capacity”

“That wilful neglect does nothing to address the long term health of our bass stocks, the important and valuable recreational bass fishery, or the future prospects of commercial fishermen who above all else need healthy fish stocks to survive”.  

BASS are calling on DEFRA to take urgent action to address the problems of overexploitation of bass stocks and to reverse this alarming decline now, not when their failure to do so becomes obvious to all.


Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society (BASS)


Conserving the UK’s Greatest Saltwater Sports fish

Notes for Editors 

-         BASS is the society which promotes the interests of its members and bass anglers throughout the United Kingdom, seeking to influence Government policy to manage the UK’s valuable Recreational Bass Fishery to provide more and bigger fish.

-         Report to BASS members by John Leballeur:

The Society has recently been approached by the French Breton rod & liners, who we have liaised with over a number of years via the CBE.

We fully support their concerns and they are aware of this.

At an European Anglers Alliance meeting outside Amsterdam in November 2008 which I attended bass was put at the top of their European agenda and the following proposals put forward to the EU assembly :-

-  Closed season in the western approaches & English channel during February & March and an increase in MLS to 42cms

-  The north & south North Sea, closed season during April and increase in MLS to 45cms.

The EAA asked if a work shop for bass could be carried out within the EAA and I agreed to this, but I am waiting the out come from the new Angling Trust for their support and the EAA to come back on this.

In the meantime delegates from the following EU states have approached me on the subject of "O" group abundance sampling etc, from the Nertherlands, Germany, France and more recently Spain & Portugal to link with our society.

We are fully aware of the number of recruitment year classes that have failed since the very good year class of 2002 and the high probability that 2008 year class might have been wiped out by the prolonged sub zero temperatures that we have experienced recently. We will only know when I commence my sampling in May of this year.

From both sides of the English Channel the decline in bass stocks is being acknowledged even if CEFAS & IFREMER put their faith in ICES.


Recieved from the European Anglers' Alliance

Note: FNPPSF is the biggest sea angling orgnisations in France with ca. 20,000 members. Jan K
(machine translated; slightly modified by Jan K)
Biological rest period: The FNPPSF engages ...
In 2000, our federation already filed a manifesto towards European bodies to protect the sea bass during the breeding season.
Since then, the idea has gained ground. Many fishermen are now also in favor.
We also welcome the initiative of a few major retailers to not sell this species during this period.
We also invite consumers to adopt an eco-responsible attitude and to stop buying wild sea bass during the same period.
Given the silence of the government, the FNPPSF decided at the last Steering Committee, to undertake without delay the implementation of measures that we also continue to demand from the establishment.
The FNPPSF therefore calls on all its members and all sports fishermen and recreational boaters to respect a biological rest period for sea bass from the 1st of February to 15 March 2009.
Communique FNPPSF


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