FISHING TACKLE TRADE CONCERNED OVER UK MINISTER’S COD AND BASS DECISIONS
The European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) today hit out at two key decisions taken by UK Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw, which the association says could seriously affect recreational sea angling in the country.
The minister recently refused to increase the minimum landing size for sea bass despite three years' of lobbying from EFTTA and UK organisations including the Bass Anglers' Sportfishing Society (BASS).
Then last week, he agreed an immediate increase from 100kg a month to one tonne a month in the amount of cod that can be caught by small commercial fishing boats -after pressure from the newly-formed National Under Ten Metre Fishermen's Association, a small organisation that was only set up at the beginning of January 2008.
EFTTA president Gregg Holloway, said today: "We are surprised that a small, newly established fishermen's organisation was able to persuade fisheries ministers over cod quotas within such a short time.
The sportfishing community in UK has repeatedly asked for a moderate increase of the minimum landing size for sea bass (from 36 cm to 42 cm) in an effort to save more baby bass from capture before they have the opportunity to spawn - thus securing future fish stocks. The request has been pending for more than three years.
The sportfishing sector has put huge efforts and resources into this issue and recently we were very disappointed that the Fisheries Minister, Mr Shaw, turned down the previous minister's proposals to raise the landing size.
EFTTA continues to be amazed by the unbalanced attention given to the two fishing sectors. The value of sportfishing has been proven to yield more in monetary terms than commercial fishing, yet all government attention and investments seem to go on commercial fishing."
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. But the Minister's decision means they can be harvested as baby fish at just 36cm (around just 1lb in weight) and before they have ever had the opportunity to spawn.
EFTTA believes the value of recreational sea fishing for bass is worth considerably more than the commercial sector and in addition, supports thousands of businesses and livelihoods.
However, increased inshore netting, as well as the development of the controversial method of pair-trawling for spawning congregations, means that anglers now rarely encounter fish of the stamp and quality which anglers most prize.
Added Mr Holloway: “We would like to see more of the bigger bass in the waters as this is what the recreational sector relies on. Having more big fish also contributes to a more natural and healthier age structure in this fish stock.”