Why did the sea bass stock crash?  Was it because of sea anglers?  No it was because the EU fishery ministers allowed commercial bass fishing pressure to grow to unsustainable levels; allowed pair trawlers and drift netters to target spawning bass aggregations; and allowed fixed netters to land and sell unlimited amounts of juvenile bass!

But despite this we were told: all those who fish for sea bass, including sea anglers, should “make a balanced contribution to saving this stock”.  Now, sea anglers are decent, reasonable and practical people and we have accepted that the priority must be to regrow the stock and that means doing our bit, even if it is a bitter pill to swallow.

But “doing our bit” means the restrictions must be fair.  And the reduction in the bag limit from three fish to one fish was not fair.  We can now see that it took our share of the total catch down from 25% to 30% before the bag limit came in, to just 13% in 2016 and 15% in 2017.  And let’s not even get started on the zero fish bag limit for most of 2018![1]

This year, a new EU law came in that says limits set for recreational fishermen must be “non-discriminatory”[2].  So we are saying to the fishery managers: the law requires you to restore our share of catch to 25% to 30% and we want you to do this by reallocating catch from the commercial sector rather than increasing the overall bass fishing pressure (the stock recovery is still at an early stage and we have no desire to see fishing pressure increase).

For 2020, the scientists have advised that a sustainable total catch would be between 1,634 tonnes and 1,946[3] and we have told the fishery managers that we want them to target the lower figure.   A 25% to 30% share of 1,634 tonnes is between 409 tonnes and 490 tonnes.

The scientists have created a new tool that allows us to estimate the tonnage implications of different bag limits[4]. The table below shows the results of a number of permutations:

Fish Months
0 3 6 7 9 10 12
1 Fish/day 85 165 243 269 321 348 401
2 Fish/day 85 190 295 330 400 435 505
3 Fish/day 85 202 320 358 436 476 553
4 Fish/day 85 206 326 367 447 488 568
5 Fish/day 85 207 328 369 450 490 571

Based on this tool, 3 fish for 9 months would be a fair bag limit for 2020.

But will the fishery managers listen to us?  That is where you come in!  If enough of us send an email to the fishery managers, they will have to consider this issue of fairness and the need to set a bag limit for 2020 that is non-discriminatory.

Once again, Save Our Sea Bass has made it easy for you to send an email to the Fishery Managers with just a couple of clicks (but if you have more time, please use the option to write your own message, since this will carry more weight).

Get your voice heard! – Click here to send an email


[1] Share of catch percentages calculated from ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas and Greater North Sea ecoregions. Published 28 June 2019

[2] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R0472

[3] ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas and Greater North Sea ecoregions. Published 28 June 2019

[4] https://ices-taf.shinyapps.io/seabass-management-tool-AGE/