After a long night of negotiations, EU Fisheries Ministers found an agreement on the 2020 fishing opportunities, including new management measures for sea bass in Northern and Southern waters. The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) and the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) find the agreement fair for recreational fishing and good for the continued rebuilding of the bass stock.
The Fisheries ministers set the same bag limit for the Northern and the Southern waters - two fish per day per angler.
In the Northern Atlantic waters (ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 6a, 7a to 7k) the 2 bass bag limit will be in place for 9 months (from 1 March to 30 November 2020) while for the remaining 3 months, only catch-and-release fishing with a rod or a handline will be permitted.
In the Southern Atlantic waters (ICES divisions 8a and 8b – Bay of Biscay) the 2 bass bag limit will be applicable all year long. On top of it, France and Spain must ensure that the total catches of seabass in the Bay of Biscay in their commercial and recreational fisheries combined do not exceed 2 533 tonnes.
The minimum landing size remains 42 cm in both areas. Recreational rod and line and spearfishing are allowed, but fixed netting for bass is not allowed.
Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius expressed his satisfaction with the results of the negotiations and declared that “Many success stories show us that stocks that have been overfished can recover thanks to the ambitious actions taken. This is the case for Northern hake: today fishers can catch twice as much as in 2008. This is the case with Northern seabass: emergency measures agreed in 2015 have led to maximum sustainable yield fishing after only three years.”1
EAA and EFTTA welcome the 2020 measures
EAA and EFTTA had recommended an increase in the bag-limit from the present one to three bass for both north and south. We got two, but also two more months open season. This is acceptable, on the background that the Commission had proposed no change but a roll-over of the recreational fisheries measures while proposing a catch increase to the commercial sector.
The ministers agreed to a fairer deal for recreational fishing. The ministers increased the total catch limits some but stayed within the scientists’ total catch advice. The increase in the total catch opportunities was distributed about evenly between the recreational and the commercial sectors.
The bass stock will continue to rebuild under this 2020 management scheme, which was a high priority for EAA and EFTTA.