THE EUROPEAN Commission has recommended that anglers should be fined if they catch and keep more than one sea bass a day as part of its effort to prevent over fishing.
The proposal comes as the EU warns that stocks of the popular fish are in “rapid decline” and measures need to be taken in order to limit the number of sea bass caught by recreational anglers. The one-a-day restriction will apply to over 200,000 anglers who currently fish from boats around the British Isles, despite strong evidence suggesting that commercial fisherman, particularly French trawlers, are to blame.
The EU’s recommendations were based on scientific evidence compiled by The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea which has suggested an 80% cut in sea bass fishing throughout the European Union.
The Angling Trust, told The Times that the prosed one-per-day limit was “grossly disproportionate” and would threaten thousands of jobs, including people who employed charter boats, in fishing tackle shops and at seaside pubs and guest houses.
The group also disputed the claim that anglers were responsible for up to a third of sea bass caught. Martin Salter, the trust’s campaign co-ordinator, told The Times: “[The commission] is targeting the people least responsible for bass mortality. It’s a bit like trying to reduce road deaths from speeding by targeting cyclists rather than drivers.”
He also added that a limit of two or three sea bass a day could be maintainable as long as tougher restrictions were brought in to monitor commercial fishing.
Last week the Angling Trust launched their own campaign to encourage the Fisheries Minister to increase the legal minimum size of caught fish from 36cm to 45cm to ensure that younger, smaller fish have the opportunity to breed and increase numbers.
Nigel Horsman of B.A.S.S. said: "Urgent and very significant action is needed to prevent a total collapse of bass stocks, of a kind that some other fisheries around the world have struggled to recover from. Bass is our most valuable sea fish due to the very high economic value derived from recreational sea angling and we simply should not have allowed stocks to have been overfished to this extent."