Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority has been threatened with judicial review following a decision not to introduce a new emergency byelaw which would have protected juvenile bass from commercial fishing nets. The IFCA has been given formal notice by Fish Legal, acting on behalf of its member the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS), following concerns at the lack of regulation of bass exploitation.
Last December, the Cornwall IFCA was told by a representative of the Marine Management Organisation that its officers had witnessed multiple landings of undersized bass from the St Ives Bay zone within the IFCA’s District. At the same meeting, a proposal was made to introduce an emergency byelaw to increase net mesh size to 108mm to avoid undersized bass being caught by commercial fishermen. In February, the Cornwall IFCA met again to consider passing the emergency byelaw but following advice from Defra that such a byelaw “could be subject to challenge”, the IFCA committee decided not to go-ahead with the byelaw.
Fish Legal believes that Cornwall IFCA did not properly consider the issues fully and should have introduced the increased mesh size to force boat owners to protect juvenile bass. Fish Legal also argues that, under European regulations, there is an urgent need to take measures for the minimum catch size to be respected and that need continues with the current threat to bass population through unlawful netting and landing of undersized bass.