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EFTTA celebrates EU sea bass victory

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The European Commission has increased the size limit for sea bass taken in Northern European waters from 36 cm to 42cm.
↑ Jean-Claude Bel has hailed the increase in the sea bass limit as a victory for EFTTA and the EAA.

Lobbying efforts by the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) and the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) has resulted in an increase in the minimum size for northern sea bass from 36cm to 42cm.

The new rule applies to both commercial and recreational fishermen and has been hailed as a victory for EFTTA and the EAA by EFTTA CEO, Jean-Claude Bel. “This is a great win for recreational fishing, the environment and the tackle industry. I would like to thank everyone who helped in this fight.

“Sea bass is hugely important to the recreational fishing industry in Europe and this measure will help protect and preserve populations of the species immensely. So far, it is only for the north of Europe in the North Sea, Irish Sea, Atlantic Ocean and English Channel – southern European waters are still a work in progress.”

The Commission had also proposed to increase the minimum size for the two southern stocks of sea bass in Iberian waters and the Bay of Biscay, but member states declined because they had less robust data available on these stocks. It will, however, ask for scientific advice on southern stocks which will be included in the new proposals on sea bass from 2016 onwards.

The decision by the Commission is the latest in a package of measures proposed for 2015 to halt the decline of the species and prepare the way forward for further management measures. Previous steps include a short-term ban on pelagic trawling, a three fish bag limit for recreational fishermen and – for the remainder of 2015 – a monthly catch limit and an area closure around Ireland for commercial fishing.

Sea bass is a high value, iconic species for anglers and commercial fishermen alike, but stocks in the EU are seriously under threat as a result of fishing pressure and lower reproduction. Scientists agree that catches of these fish must be drastically reduced.

Jan Kappel, EFTTA’s Pubic Affairs Officer, said: “This is a major improvement for bass and a victory for the angling community which has lobbied for better bass management for more than a decade, but the war has not been won yet. Stocks of the fish are in a poor state and will be for several years. If and when the bass population fully recovers will depend much on our lobbying efforts.

“Important now is not only a recovered stock, but a stock with a healthy age structure. That means more of the bigger bass being left out there which will be a good thing for the angling community.”

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