At this time of year commercial bass fishermen take advantage of the pre-spawning concentrations of bass that gather around the Cornish coast.  Most recently, social media posts are featuring fishermen in St Ives with photos like the ones featured below, showing boxes full of bass being landed.

It transpires this is all legal provided they complying with the current regulations.  Fixed netters are allowed to land unavoidable by-catch of 1.2 tonnes per year and, of course above the minimum landing size of 42 cms.  However, the skippers know that MMO and IFCAs have acknowledged that the “unavoidable” regulation is not defined and cannot be enforced.

Some may question how this fits with the dire state of bass stocks and the severe restrictions on anglers.  A reminder that this was a zero allowance for the first 9 months of 2018 and is now one fish per day.

The EU has proposed a 1% of daily catch limit that will overcome the problem of not being able to easily enforce an unavoidable by-catch regulation.  However, Save Our Sea Bass has been advised that the Fisheries Minister, George Eustice  will be opposing a percentage limit on catches at the the annual negotiations that take place in Brussels next week.  If he were to win this argument, we will be witnessing the same destruction of our bass stocks in 2019.

The Save Our Sea Bass campaign to Get the Nets Out is supporting a daily percentage catch limit with a suggestion that this should be raised to say, 10%. This would ensure that true accidental catches can be landed while not being a big enough percentage to encourage netters to target bass.