Date Set For Bass Ban Overturn

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21 Sep

The EU's Council of Ministers will meet on September 27th when it is expected to adopt a measure meaning EU citizens will finally be able to keep sea bass caught recreationally from October 1st until the end of 2018.

Once adopted, one bass per day can be legally retained by anglers and other recreational fishers who have been banned from doing so since January this year.

The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) has been campaigning heavily for a bag limit for recreational catches to be reinstated after the ban was introduced following flawed scientific advice which dramatically overestimated the impact recreational catches were having on the stock.

The Council agreed at the time of the ban that the scientific evidence needed reviewing after which the ban on recreational landings might be lifted.

EAA representatives attended an ICES benchmarking session in February where the scientific evidence from around Europe was reviewed. However, it took until June for the new evidence to be published and recreational anglers have been waiting since then for a bag limit to be re-established after the impact of recreational fishing in 2016 was reduced by 87 per cent from 1,600 tonnes to approximately 200 tonnes.

David Mitchell, Chairman of the European Anglers Alliance Sea Sub-Group, said: “EU citizens fishing for sea bass sustainably for their own consumption have suffered a terrible injustice in 2018 due to a massive overestimate in the impact they were having on the stock. We are very pleased that the right of those members of the public who wish to catch and eat a publicly-owned sea bass is due to be re-established for the remainder of the year. However, banning the public from catching sea fish for personal consumption in the first instance, particularly while allowing commercial fishing to continue, displays contempt for the rights of EU citizens and highlights a chronic failing of the Common Fisheries Policy to see recreational fishing as an equal stakeholder in EU fisheries. It cannot be allowed to happen again.”

Jan Kappel, Secretary General of the European Anglers’ Alliance, said: “Some people try to denigrate the recreational sea angling sector by insisting that anglers are just “fishing for fun” and therefore should be treated as less important than commercial fisheries, or not important at all. In truth, per fish the recreational angling sector delivers much more economic activity and jobs than the commercial fisheries sector. A study conducted for the European Parliament confirmed that, the total economic impact of marine recreational fishing amounts to 10.5 billion euro, supporting almost 100,000 jobs.

A big part of this value and these jobs can be attributed recreational fishing for bass. The tackle trade, charter boats and other angling dependant businesses have lost revenue recently due to the introduction of the retention ban. To them draconian measures like that are not “fun” at all. We welcome the change from zero to one fish. It shows that the EU is willing and capable of correcting what needs be corrected not only at the annual meeting in December but also within the year.” 

1 Research for PECH Committee - Marine recreational and semi-subsistence fishing - its value and its impact on fish stocks”; Kieran HYDER et al (2017)

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