Dr James Davies, MP for the Vale of Clywd, has written to the Minister for Food and Fisheries regarding new EU rules affecting anglers who fish for sea bass.
Recreational anglers have for some years been pushing for measures to preserve wild bass stocks which are under threat across Europe, mainly due to commercial fishing pressure. Bass as a species are slow to reach breeding maturity and are particularly sensitive to fishing pressure and scientific evidence has shown they are close to collapse. At the same time there has been increased interest in bass from restaurants.
Initial negotiations at EU level had arrived at measures that would limit commercial fishing, such as from nets and long lines, but anglers contacted the MP after they became concerned that these measures had been reduced in subsequent negotiations while anglers were told they could take no fish between January and June and 1 fish per day for the rest of the year.
Commenting James said, “I’ve asked the Minister whether this is a sustainable approach as anglers have pointed out most wild bass are taken by commercial fisherman using nets and other commercial methods, so they argue they will be returning fish just for the same fish to be taken and killed on a bigger scale commercially.
“I understand that recreational fishing brings in more money to the national economy, for example through tourism, than the commercial fishery and has less impact on the stocks. If the measures proposed by the EU are not sustainable all that will happen is that the whole bass fishery risks being closed due to a collapse in stocks. This would end up impacting every sector”.
It is understood that dozens of local anglers have written to the MP saying the rules are unfairly targeted and a national petition is running into the thousands as a backbench debate is brought to Parliament this week.
Commenting on this, the Commodore of Prestatyn Sailing Club said, “We at Prestatyn sailing club recognize the scientific evidence is alarmingly clear and the urgent and very significant action is needed to prevent a total collapse of bass stocks. Let’s all be honest the safe guards introduced are just not going to work. When a commercial inshore gill netting boat can harvest, in one drift, more fish than an angler will collect in a year, by no stretch of any imagination is this sustainable. If allowed to carry on we will lose our stocks of fish”.
1) More information about the issue can be found in a document produced by the Angling Trust as follows – http://ow.ly/XWzUD
2) There is a large sea fishing club at Prestatyn, whose web site is www.prestatynsailingclub.co.uk