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Positive response to 2017 EU bass conservation plans

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The areas allowed for recreational fishing from boat and shore proposed for 2017 by the European Commission in Northern waters.
↑ All commercial fishing for bass in 2017 would be banned under proposals being considered by the European Commission in the areas coloured yellow.

EFTTA and the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) have given a positive response to the European Commission’s proposed bass management measures for 2017.

If adopted by the Council in December only recreational anglers and commercial hook and line fishers will be allowed to target Northern bass. Unfortunately, says EFTTA and the EAA, there is still no EU level recognition of Southern bass fisheries proposed.

The EAA said: “We are happy with the proposal’s direction and most of the details. The biggest surprise may be the ban on bass fishing with nets. This alone would bring a robust reduction in the total of commercial bass, increase the protection of juvenile fish and make control and enforcement easier.

“As most hook and line fishers can release bass with a high survival rate, more sophisticated measures to conserve stocks would be possible with a minimum of inconvenience to anglers. An example of this would be to increase the minimum landing size from the present 42cm and eventually let go the biggest bass as well – the super-spawners – by introducing a maximum retention size.”

Like this year, fishing vessels using demersal trawls and seines will be allowed a 1% by catch derogation. However, the Commission suggests that no more than one ton should be landed. “The new cap is very welcome. However, one ton seems to be above what is sensible or needed – high by catch allowances always include the risk of incentivising targeted fishing,” added the EAA.

Other proposals to be considered include:

  • A closed season in February and March. Catch and release angling to be allowed. This year the closed season for recreational angling was six months.
  • A monthly recreational bag limit of 10 bass a month. The EAA says that the current bass limit is one a day, which has done much damage to bass angling and dependent businesses. “We therefore have urged more flexibility in the form of a monthly limit, which anglers could choose instead of a daily bag limit. We are happy that the Commission has followed our wish. However, we would prefer an increase in the 10 bass limit. What remains to be decided in the future is a scheme to control this.”
  • An annual catch limit of 10 tons for commercial hook and line fishers alongside a closed season between February and March. The EAA said: “This derogation will apply only to Union fishing vessels that have recorded catches of sea bass using hooks and lines from July 1 2015 to 30 September 2016.”
  • Fishing boats using demersal trawls and seines may retain on board catches of sea bass that do not exceed 1% of the weight of its catch in any single day. The catch of sea bass must not exceed one ton a month.
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