Bass Management Plan – A proposal for revised management of the UK bass fishery
During a recent press conference, the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society presented their proposals for a revised management of the UK bass fishery. These proposals are outlined in a report which was submitted to Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK. If adopted, these measures could dramatically alter the status of recreational fishing and could be extended to other fish species.
Below is a short summary of the findings of the report. A full copy of the report is available from the B.A.S.S website at www.ukbass.com.
The current UK management of bass stocks in not generating best value for the national economy and is seriously limiting the growth potential of the bass sport fishery. The recent government Strategy Unit report on the future of the UK fishing industry recommends that bass should now be considered for re-designation as a wholly recreational species. Case histories from Southern Ireland and the USA reveal how sustainable management of fish species, such as the European sea bass and the striped bass, primarily for recreational benefit, can generate superior economic gains for local and national economies. In addition, it can ensure that recreationally exploited species continue to expand as a result of very low angling mortality rates and relatively inefficient capture techniques (hook and line).
The Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society’s reports reviews the evidence for making bass a game-fish species in order to deliver recreational, socio-economic and fiscal gain. The report proposes the implementation of new management measures encompassed within a Bass Management Plan. If implemented together, or within a short time-span, these measures would reduce the exploitation pressure on bass in UK waters, and would allow for restoration and sustainable exploitation of stocks for the benefit of all stakeholders, with a particular focus on recreational angling.
These proposed management tools are well proven in other parts of the world, where the importance of recreational use of fish and game resources are recognised and managed for the key socio-economic benefits. They focus on placing the well being of the commonly owned resource above that of commercial exploitation by mankind, ensuring that, in the future, our fish stocks are allowed to reproduce and flourish for the benefit of the community as a whole.
The BMP management tools include:
- Bass Commercial Licences for the retention of bass
- Bass Carcass Tags, to cap effort, increase traceability and improve enforcement
- Bass Bag Limits to limit the retention of bass by unlicensed fishermen and anglers and to aid detection and enforcement of illegal fishing
- Closed Season to protect spawning bass when they are vulnerable
- Increases in Minimum Landing Size to strengthen the brood stock
- Nursery Area additional measures and enforcement to protect juveniles
- Near-Shore Netting Restrictions to protect our fragile coastal zones
Many of the measures required to protect bass and enhance the stocks for improved recreational access can be covered through secondary legislation via new orders and variations to existing orders. However, issues like buyer beware, recreational bag limits, and improved enforcement inspection powers related to carcass tagging, may well require new primary legislation. The move to designate bass as a fully recreational species or even the first UK marine game species would almost certainly require primary legislation unless there was scope for Ministers to make appropriate Orders to cover this within the current proposal for a new Marine Act.
The Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS) is a UK-based organisation. Membership of BASS is open to all sea anglers. There are no qualifying conditions of entry and no age, sex, religious, racial or physical ability pre-requisites for membership. The Society has gained an enviable reputation for its conservation-based approach to developing the sport of angling for the European Sea Bass.