Many anglers have, rightly, been angered by the EU Fisheries Ministers (including the UK’s George Eustice) removing their right to catch and eat bass in the first six months of 2016, whilst some commercial fishermen have been allowed to continue landing bass in four of those six months.

But at the same time, we should not lose sight of the fact that our determined campaigning has delivered huge dividends for the bass stock in 2015:

  • Saving the bass stock is now an urgent priority for EU Fisheries Managers and EU Fisheries Ministers.
  • the EU Member States have agreed that they will keep cutting bass landings in 2017 and 2018, so as to reach a sustainable level of fishing from 2018, thus ensuring that the strong conservation momentum that has now been generated will be maintained.
  • The Minimum Landing Size increase from 36cm to 42cm will mean that many more female bass have the opportunity to grow to maturity and spawn at least once.
  • The French pair-trawling in spawning areas has finally been stopped: a 6-month closed period and vessel catch limits of only 1.0 tonne make it uneconomic for these vessels to target offshore aggregations of bass. This means more bass surviving to spawn and regenerate the stock.
  • The 6-month closed period and vessel catch limits also stop other industrial-scale bass fishing, for example the Dutch seine-netting in the Eastern English Channel.
  • All EU commercial fishing vessels have now been completely banned from fishing in the waters around Ireland, correcting the anomaly that Ireland had banned its own fishing vessels from fishing for bass, but was unable to stop other EU vessels.
  • The restrictions on drift-netting will greatly reduce the mid-channel drift-netting that targets bass aggregations in the Eastern English Channel.
  • The 1.0 tonne per month vessel catch limit will stop vessels taking repeated large hits of bass.

The bass stock is currently in serious trouble – it is now estimated to be just 5,278 tonnes. Below 5,250 tonnes there is a high probability that the breeding stock will become unviable. But finally we are managing to turn the tide: stopping unsustainable fishing methods; getting bass landings cut significantly; and giving the bass stock a chance to regenerate back to a safe level in the next few years.

It is important that we maintain this campaigning momentum and keep the pressure on. Your support is essential: please keep signing the petitions and sending emails to the EU Fisheries Ministers and Managers (via

What about bass recreational angling?

Our campaign in November and December prevented the threatened 6-month closure for catch and release bass angling: the EU Commission and the EU Fisheries Ministers now accept that catch & release bass angling is sustainable, low impact and delivers large social and economic benefits. This sets a valuable precedent and we will continue to push for similar recognition of the benefits of catch & eat bass angling.

George Eustice made a flippant comment, in respect of the recent bass decisions, that anglers always grumble. To the contrary, most recreational anglers are actually keen to “do their bit” so that the bass stock can recover over the next few years, allowing us to enjoy more and bigger bass in the future.

However, as bass-fishing opportunities become increasingly restricted, the argument over how to allocate those dwindling fishing opportunities is heating up, and we will fight relentlessly for recreational bass anglers to get priority ahead of commercial fishermen in general, and gill-netters in particular.