Campaigners try and overturn the complete ban on taking bass by sports angling

If you are a rod and line fisherman you can take 5 tonnes … but sport anglers cannot take one fish.

The Angling Trust and Save Our Sea Bass have ramped up pressure on the European Commission after new scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) revealed that bass mortality from sea anglers is much lower than estimated last year.

The two lobbying organisations have signed a joint letter – through the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) – addressed to European Commissioner for Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, demanding that the bag limit is reinstated as soon as possible. They have also been lobbying fisheries ministers and UK MPs.

In October 2017, ICES provided an estimate of sea bass mortality attributable to public sea angling of 1,627 tonnes, which resulted in the introduction of a complete ban on sea anglers taking a bass for the table in 2018.  This was while commercial hook and line and net fishermen could continue landing bass, effectively privatising the bass fishery. A proposed ban on anglers targeting bass in 2018 was overturned, following a 13,000 signature petition organised through the EAA.

In view of the restrictions already placed upon sea anglers over preceding years, the Angling Trust, Save our Sea Bass and European Anglers Alliance believed ICES estimates of angler-induced bass mortality to be far too high, and have been liaising with the scientists since October to arrive at an estimate that reflects the 1 fish bag limit, a 6-month fishing season and an increased Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS – Minimum Landing Size) of 42 cm.

ICES has used a revised methodology to come up with a figure that represents an 87% decrease in the estimated impact of recreational fishing in 2016 compared to the figures published last year. Scientists are now estimating recreational removals from 2016 were only 212t, compared to a previously estimated 1627t.

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