At Cornwall IFCA’s Committee meeting on Friday 18 September, several Cornwall IFCA Committee members agreed that there is a problem with net-caught bass landings going up in Cornwall and expressed concern that some Cornish fixed netters are illegally targeting bass and landing it as “unavoidable bycatch”. In 2019, nearly 70% of all net-caught bass landed into Mevagissey were from trips where bass made up 90% to 100% of the catch.
Several Committee members acknowledged there is a problem with netters illegally targeting bass. Local Marine Management Organisation Officer Daisy May said “we do know that in Cornwall, historically, levels of landing in this area with regards to the rest of England is higher.” and advised that “action needs to be taken”.
Andrew Pascoe said “I would urge Cornwall IFCA officers to regulate and police the targeting of bass day after day with nets” and “when you continually shoot back in the same area day after day after day, these are the issues that need to be policed more”.
Councillor Graham Coad said “there’s specific information that’s been coming in about particular vessels, largely in the Mevagissey area that have been targeting bass and that is illegal still, I understand, and we’ve heard reports of 100% bycatch of bass. How can you have 100% bycatch? I think that Cornish IFCA needs to do more, specifically investigate these allegations”
Nick Tregenza focused on the term “unavoidable bycatch”: “if a boat has unavoidable bycatch repeatedly, it wasn’t unavoidable” and advised “we shouldn’t view unavoidable bycatch because it’s undefined as meaningless. It obviously is very meaningful and could be established.”
Committee members were keen to take action and voted “that Cornwall IFCA write to Defra to express their concern and the vague nature of the words “unavoidable bycatch” and provide a clear definition of this phrase at the earliest opportunity.”