In the December issue, FF&FT carried a ful page advert for anglers to sign a petition which is aimed at protecting our bass stocks from over-exploitation by commercial fisheries. In essence, the petition's aim is to ban commericial netting of bass and allow a flexible bag-limit for anglers (rather like the system which now operates in Scotland for salmon).
Last year, disproportionate restrictions on anglers and increased commercial catch-limits were not only a disaster for bass, but the restrictions had a knock-on effect for coastal businesses, a bad effect on the tackle trade, and damaged our sport, with numerous saltwater fly anglers reporting a dearth of bass where they had once fished.
The Angling Trust and BASS (Bass Anglers' Sportfishing Society) have been campaigning hard for a ban on bass netting, and the EU Commission proposals for 2017 would not only see the removal of the damaging bass nets (which also kill sea birds, porpoises, dolphins and seals) but it would also see the introduction of a more flexible monthly bag limit for anglers, which would be good news for the struggling charter boat fleet, and for the fishing tackle trade as more anglers would once again go bass fishing.
The current campaign has so far generated over 11,000 signatures. However, unless the proposals are supported by weight of numbers it is likely that the commercial fishing organisations will lobby to water down the proposals, and continue with their netting. Time is running out for our sea bass. In April 2015 EU scientists predicted the spawning stock biomass wpuld decline to its lowest observed level since data was recorded, and, in 2016, that prediction came true with an all-time low for spawning stock biomass. This lifeline from the EU, however, is angling's opportunity to reverse that decline, but time is running out: the decision will be made on Monday, December 12. More signatures are required: Click here to sign the petition now.