Well, our government seems to think so!

In July 2021, the government increased sea bass catch limits for commercial fishermen using bottom trawls and seine nets by a hefty 46%[1] and allowed commercial shore netters to start landing and selling bass.

So, what increase in catch allowances did the government give to sea anglers? Perhaps an increase in the bass “take” season from 9 to 10 months, to match the commercial fishing 10-month season? Or an increase in the bass bag limit from 2 fish to 3 fish? No, sea anglers were given nothing.

In December 2021, the government increased bass catch limits for fixed netters from 1.4 tonnes to 1.5 tonnes per annum and for hook & liners from 5.7 tonnes to 5.95 tonnes[2].

Surely, you must be wondering, the government didn’t ignore sea anglers again? Surely, sea anglers must have been given something this time? No, again the government has given sea anglers absolutely nothing!

The government’s position, going into the December sea bass negotiations with the EU, was no increases for anyone, arguing the catch allowance changes introduced in July needed time to bed down and the bass stock remains fragile. Disappointing for sea anglers, since our “take” season could have been sustainably increased from 9 to 10 months, to match the commercial fishermen. On the other hand, no catch limit increases for anyone would have allowed the stock to recover more quickly.

However, it seems that in the closing stages of the negotiations with the EU, some horse-trading was done. The government abandoned its principled position of no bass catch limit increases for anyone and then discriminated against sea anglers by giving bass catch limit increases to commercial fishermen, but not to sea anglers.

This is absolutely astonishing complacency and arrogance on the part of our government – did they think sea anglers wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t mind? And to rub salt into the wound, this comes hard on the heels of sea anglers finally being recognised in the Fisheries Act as ”stakeholders” in our fisheries. This slap in the face is hardly conducive to building trust between sea anglers and the fisheries managers – in advance of stakeholder engagement on Fisheries Management Plans, this is a massive own goal by the government.

Please write to your MP and our Fisheries Minster to tell them you find this decision outrageous and that you want it fixed right now with a 10 month “take” season and a 3 fish bag limit for sea anglers.

Save Our Sea Bass has made it easy for you to send an email to them by clicking here.

[1] From 520 kg per two months to 380 kg per month. 2021 No. 698 SEA FISHERIES The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021.

[2] Written Record of fisheries consultations between the United Kingdom and the European Union for 2022.