Get Your Voice Heard

The EU Commission is currently consulting on fishing catch limits (“fishing opportunities”) for 2022, including for bass.  Get your voice heard now, by clicking on the link to the EU consultation at the bottom of this blog. (If you want to know why the EU still matters for bass post-Brexit, read our blog here).

But before you respond to the EU consultation, we would like to explain how the current fishing opportunities system works (or perhaps more accurately, doesn’t work for sea anglers) and therefore why we are asking for more bass to be allocated to sea anglers, even though the stock is not yet at a safe level.

More and Bigger Bass

Our goal is for “More and Bigger Bass” and that means managing the stock to deliver a large stock size and allowing more bass to reach their maximum size.  Not only would this be fantastic for sea anglers, but it would deliver the greatest socio-economics benefits for our coastal communities.

But sadly the current system is designed to deliver only the impoverished objective of Maximum Sustainable Yield (“MSY”).

So what is MSY?

MSY is an approach to setting fishing pressure that aims to maximise the tonnage of fish that can be caught and sold over the long term. It is all about maximising tonnage extraction by commercial fishermen, rather than maximising social and economic benefits for broader coastal communities.

There are better goals for our fisheries and commercial fishermen are not the only stakeholders in our fisheries.  We need to be asking our fishery managers: “why are you using a commercial fishing goal to manage a fish stock where sea anglers are the primary stakeholder and MSY is not appropriate?”

How do our Fishery Managers use MSY?

Each year the UK and the EU Governments ask the fisheries scientists to provide an updated assessment for each fish stock, including advice on the tonnage of fish that can be caught according to the MSY approach.

The UK and the EU then set quotas and catch limits at the levels advised (or higher, against the scientific advice, if they accept arguments that this is necessary to support commercial fishermen)

It is rare for fishing pressure to be set below the maximum amount advised by the scientists, since doing otherwise would reduce commercial fishing profits.

What about Bass?

For a number of reasons, we completely reject the use of MSY as a target for the bass fishery (that’s a topic for another blog, but in short, we want a much higher stock level than the MSY approach implies and that means keeping bass fishing pressure low).

But until we can get the system changed, we are stuck with the MSY approach and so for 2022 the UK and the EU are likely to set bass fishing pressure at the highest level advised by the scientists: 2,216 tonnes [i] (up 25% from an estimated 1,770 tonnes for 2021).

So if, despite our efforts, we can’t stop this extra tonnage being allocated, we want as much to be allocated to sea anglers as we can get – for a few reasons:

  • Sea angling is the most sustainable form of bass fishing.
  • Allocating more bass to sea angling will deliver the greatest socio-economic benefits for our coastal communities.
  • We want to get back to the original share of catch in the bass fishery in the 1970s and earlier, when most bass was caught by sea anglers.
  • By asking for more bass to be allocated to sea anglers, we make it harder for extra bass to be allocated to unsustainable types of commercial fishing.

Conclusion

So for 2022, we would like sea anglers to ask UK and EU fishery managers to:

  • increase the sea angling season to 10 months (1 March to 31 December) to match the commercial open season;
  • increase the bag limit to 3 bass per person per day; and
  • target the scientists lower level of removals of 1,859 tonnes, not 2,216 tonnes, so the stock will grow in 2022, not shrink.

The first step is to respond to the EU fishing opportunities consultation now, before it closes on Tuesday 31 August.

Unfortunately the EU consultation system has changed from simply sending an email to using an online system that requires you to register, so it will take you longer to respond this year.

[i] ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort bss.27.4bc7ad-h Published 30 June 2021

 

In case you need any help with the process, once you are on the consultation webpage:

  • click on the “Give Feedback” button.
  • click on the “Register” button
  • fill out the “Create an account” form and submit it
  • go to your inbox and click on the authentication email from the EU Commission.
  • go back to the consultation webpage
  • click on the “Give Feedback” button
  • log in
  • write your response
  • select to give your feedback as a “non-EU citizen”
  • select your country as “United Kingdom”
  • select if you want your name to be published with your response
  • tick the “personal data protection provisions” box
  • Press “Submit”