Fisheries Ministers won’t protect bass

Bass Dicentrachus labraxOnce again the commercial lobby and ministers have put national interest before the protection of a species at risk.

With ICES calling for an 80% reduction in bass landings, how bad do things have to get before something is done ?

According to UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice : “I was disappointed no decision was reached this year to improve bass stocks but will be following up on the Commission’s commitment to work with Member States in the New Year. The UK has been a lone voice on this issue and it is essential we achieve a balanced approach which reflects the contribution of both commercial fisheries as well as recreational anglers on declining bass numbers.”

However that hides the fact that Minister Eustice has really been living in cloud cuckoo land in not recognising that his strategy of leaving it to Europe to agree long overdue measures to rebuild bass stocks was fundamentally flawed.

In response to a Parliamentary question from Richard Benyon MP he said: "When it comes to bass, I can tell him that we expect to have an important breakthrough in December. We have always said that there should be technical measures. The stock has been fished unsustainably and there is a tentative proposal, which we expect to be raised at the December Council, that will look at both bag limits and catch limits, so that we can preserve this vital stock."

French commercial fishers are responsible for about 60% of all bass catches which primarily use pair-trawlers in the species spawning areas – typical of the ‘farmers’ of the sea – destroy the very foundation of your industry and then cry poverty and seek de-commissioning funding.


UK fisheries minister George Eustice writes:

We have secured the breakthrough we wanted to protect Bass stocks as the EU Commission confirms plans to ban the commercial targeting of Bass during the spawning season. At December fisheries council I managed to get a joint statement to consider emergency measures to protect Bass between January-April on spawning grounds (many of which are off the Cornish coast). These fish have been targeted by French pair trawlers before they can even reproduce. Defra negotiators worked overtime throughout Christmas and New Year to move the commitment forward leading to todays breakthrough. Great news for Cornish Bass.

Bass – European Commission press release

Commission to adopt measures to protect sea bass stock

(19/01/2015) The European Commission has announced a package of measures aimed at averting the collapse of the declining sea bass stock. In the first instance emergency measures will be implemented to ban pelagic trawling of sea bass during spawning season which runs until the end of April.

These measures protect the stock from being targeted when at its most vulnerable; pelagic trawlers in the spawning season make up 25% of the impact on the stock. It is anticipated that the decision will be adopted and come into force before the end of the month.

Recognising that all those who fish sea bass should make a balanced and fair contribution to saving this stock, it is proposed that the pelagic trawling ban will be complemented by a number of other measures which the Commission and the countries involved – UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands – are putting together jointly. This will include measures to manage recreational fishing and limit catches of all other commercial fisheries.

The Commission will work with the countries involved to finalise these measures and table a proposal to the Council in the coming weeks.

The Commission will publish full details of the measures once they are adopted.

Category: EU Government News

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