The Commission’s proposed bass management measures 2017 have been published as part of a proposal for a Council Regulation on the 2017 “fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, for Union fishing vessels, in certain non-Union waters.”
If adopted by the Council in December only recreational anglers and commercial hook and line fishers will be allowed to target Northern bass. Unfortunately, there still is no EU level regulation of Southern bass fisheries proposed.
We are happy about the proposal’s direction and most of the details. The biggest surprise may be the ban on bass fishing with nets. This alone would bring a robust reduction in the total of commercial bass catches, increase the protection of juvenile bass, and make control and enforcement easier. As most hook and line fishers can release bass with a high survival rate, more sophisticated management measures to conserve the stock would be possible with a minimum inconvenience for the fishers e.g. increase the minimum landing size from the present 42 cm, and eventually let go the biggest bass as well (the “super-spawners”) by introducing a max. retention size.
Like this year, fishing vessels deploying demersal trawls and seines will be allowed a 1% by-catch derogation. However, the Commission suggests, as a new thing, that no more than 1 tonne a month shall be landed under this derogation. This new cap is very welcome. However 1 tonne seems above what is sensible or needed (high by-catch allowances always include the risk of incentivising targeted fishing).
More details and comments:
• A closed season in February and March. Catch and release angling allowed.
[this year the closed season concerning recreational angling was six months long – first half of the year].
• A monthly recreational angling bag limit of 10 bass/month.
[this year the bag limit is one bass per fishing day only, which has and will do much damage to the bass angling dependant businesses. We therefore have urged more flexibility in the form of a monthly bag limit, which anglers could choose instead of the daily bag limit. We are happy that the Commission has followed our wish. However, we would prefer the Council to increase the 10 bass limit some. What remains to be decided later is a scheme to control the monthly bag limit. To make it easy for the angler, we have suggested an electronic log-book, which can be filled in via telephone, smartphone (an “app”) and PC].
• Commercial hook and line fishers: An annual catch limit of 10 tonnes (closed season Feb and March). “This derogation shall apply only to Union fishing vessels that have recorded catches of sea bass using hooks and lines from 1 July 2015 to 30 September 2016.”
[this is a “flexibility change” from this year’s limit: 1300 kg per month].
• By-catches: Fishing vessels “deploying demersal trawls and seines may retain on board catches of sea bass that do not exceed 1 % of the weight of the total catches of marine organisms on board in any single day. The catches of sea bass retained on board by a Union fishing vessel on the basis of this derogation may not exceed 1 tonne per month”
[the first part is the same as this year. The monthly 1 tonne cap is new]
The Commission’s proposal:
Commission press release:
Commission - Fact Sheet: “Questions and Answers on the Commission's proposal for Atlantic and North Sea fish quotas (TACs) in 2017”
See also a release by Angling Trust: