DECISION MADE ON BASS MANAGEMENT PLAN
You'll recall in January of this year, a letter was written to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on behalf of Janet Doyle, EFTTA General Manager to represent the 33 UK members in support of the MLS increase. Since then, Defra has received over 3,000 responses. We have been closely monitoring the situation and recently received an update.
A press release (http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/bass-mls/index.htm ) was circulated on 10 August from Defra in response to the Bass Management Plan to increase bass minimum landing size (MLS) from 36cm to 45cm.
While the increase was granted, it was however only approved to 40cm - for the time being. This increase will be in effect as of 6 April 2007 and will be subject to change in 2010 when the fisheries management review the progress made on the change.
To the anglers, the 40cm is a step in the right direction, but is still considered too small to preserve bass stocks. At 40cm, these are still 'baby bass' with very few spawners among them. The average spawning size is 42cm.
More details on the press release below:
The minimum landing size for sea bass is to be increased to improve and sustain the fishery. From April 6, 2007, fisherman and anglers will not be allowed to land bass any smaller than 40cm, announced Ben Bradshaw. The current limit is 36cm.
Mr Bradshaw said: "I have listened very carefully to the representations made and have not taken this decision lightly. I have accepted the arguments for bigger minimum landing size to help increase the quantity and size of bass. This will also give better protection for the stocks. There may be short term costs from this measure before we see future gains but it is vital that fisheries management takes a long term view."
He continues, "the recreational fishing sector makes a major contribution to our economy and it is important that their voice, as well as those of commercial fishermen, is taken into account in fisheries management."
"In the future, I intend to increase the landing size further to 45cm, but subject to the results of a review, in 2010, of the effectiveness of the measures I have announced today."
The increase to 40cm will bring the MLS closer to the average spawning size for bass (42cm). As a result, more juvenile fish will be protected and there would be increased recruitment to the spawning stock. This will in turn increase the number and size of bass available for capture to both the commercial and recreational sector.
Stay tuned for further updates.