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Everyone Loses

Jan 21,2008 SACN

Everyone Loses

“Defra appeasement and inactivity will destroy bass stocks for everyone”

Cornish inshore commercial fishermen have finally admitted that bass stocks in Cornwall are over-fished.

In the January 18th edition of Fishing News, skipper David Bond of Looe explained that the lack of available quota for species such as cod and sole has forced the inshore fleet to increase the pressure on non quota species like bass using gill nets.

In the article he states: “We have tens of small boats from Mevagissey almost literally crying out after being forced to fish (nets) for bass when there’s already too much pressure on that fishery..”

For many years the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS) have advised Defra that increasing commercial fishing for bass was threatening both bass stocks and recreational angling quality.

BASS have repeatedly called on Defra to introduce measures to better protect bass stocks and to accept the government research which clearly shows that recreational sea angling for bass generates a huge amount of money by comparison to the value of the commercial catch, and supports thousands more livelihoods, particularly in the South West.

The Bass Management Plan written by BASS and presented to Defra called for a range of measures including an increase in the minimum landing size to allow all female bass to spawn before capture.

This measure was put out to consultation by Defra but subsequently turned down. Not on biological grounds, but because of lobbying from the commercial sector, and a behind closed doors acceptance by Defra that it would impact the inshore fleet when quota species were used up.

“The latest admission by skipper Bond has revealed what we all knew would happen when Defra were afraid to grasp the nettle regarding the minimum landing size increase”, states John Leballeur of BASS

“We now have a situation created by Defra in which neither recreational nor commercial bass fishermen will benefit, and the biggest losers will be the bass stocks and the environment.

The bass which are inshore at this time of the year tend to be the smaller fish, which have come out of the estuaries. These fish are mostly immature and have not yet spawned.

The failure of Defra to increase the minimum landing size to protect these fish means that the increased pressure now being exerted by the commercials will take even more bass before they have ever spawned.

With the lack of available quota on other species, every inshore commercial is now setting gill nets for immature bass which are non quota species. 

This is a recipe for total disaster, a mismanagement of a public resource and a blatant acceptance of an unsustainable situation.”


Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society (BASS)
Conserving the UK’s Greatest Sportfish
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.

- Fishing News is the weekly newspaper of the commercial fishing industry.

- The Bass Management Plan is available on the BASS website at:  http://ukbass.com/bassmanagementplan/index.html

- Bass are a slow growing and late maturing species, capable of growing to over 20lbs, living some 25 years and capable of spawning up to 15 times.  The current Minimum Landing Size (MLS) is just 36cm (around 1 lb). An MLS of 45cm (around 2lb) would ensure that all females will have spawned at least once before being taken.  It is the larger fish which are greatly prized by anglers, but which have become increasingly scarce in recent years.

- Following a public consultation (which surprised DEFRA with the number of responses, mostly supporting an increase in the bass minimum landing size to 45cm), the previous Fisheries Minister, Ben Bradshaw, had announced that a new minimum landing size for bass of 40cm would apply as from 6th April 2007, but withdrew the measure for further consideration just weeks before it was put in place, following representations from commercial fishermen.  The new fisheries minister recently announced his decision to drop the proposed increase altogether, but promised to look at the possibility of creating closed areas and netting restrictions. 

Story in Western Morning News


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