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  • European Commission proposes drastic measures to recover Bass stocks - but anglers suffer draconian restrictions too.

    The European Commission has recognised the continued overfishing of Bass by commercial fishing fleets in the channel cannot continue and have proposed some drastc measures to restrict commerc ial exploitation of this valuable fish stock.

    But in doing so they have also decided to impose drastic and over the top restrictions on recreational Bass anglers. These restrictions could threaten the livelhoods of many south coast charter skippers who rely on taking crews out Bass fishing during the summer months.

    Firstly there is to be a total ban on ANY commercial landings of Bass for the fist six months of the year - and recreational angers are not allowed to target the fish either. The council has recommended that only 541 tonnes should be caught next year. Last year, anglers caught 908 tonnes and commercial fishermen 2,683 tonnes. The European Commission proposes that 1,449 tonnes be caught next year.

    David Mitchell, Marine Campaigns Manager for the Angling Trust, released the following statament:

    "Government figures show that recreational sea angling is enjoyed by more than 800,000 people in the UK and is worth £2bn to the economy. Bass is our most popular sport fish and the majority of bass caught by anglers are returned to live, breed and fight another day. Anglers have been warning about commercial netting causing a decline in bass stocks for the last 20 years and it is only recently that the European Commission and the Member States have started taking the issue seriously. Whilst we welcome the proposals to further restrict the commercial harvesting of bass it is monstrously unfair to lump all forms of bass fishing together. There is absolutely no equivalence between a trawler dragging a huge net across the ocean and a group of anglers going out at the weekend with a rod and line and fishing sustainably within agreed size and bag limits. The Angling Trust intends to tell the Commission that there are picking the wrong target."

    While anglers will welcome the restrictions on commercial catches the restrictions on angling will cause concern and should be reconsidered.

    Tim Macpherson Sussex Angling publisher and Angling Trust director commented on the ban:

    "A recent MRAG study demonstrated that recreational angling contributes 3 times the value of commercial fishing to the economies of Sussex coastal towns so I believe restricting anglers in the way proposed will damage the many busineses along the coast which rely on bass angling - foremost of those are charter boats on Eastbourne, Brighton, Newhaven and Littlehampton who target Bass in the spring and summer and attract anglers from far and wide to these towns. While I support the measures to restrict commercial fishings I find this argument that just because they are being restricted anglers should be too entirely spurious. It's clear that commericial fishing for Bass is the reason stocks have crashed not the few fish whcih are landed by anglers."

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