ATA attacks u-turn on minimum landing sizes for sea bass

The Angling Trades AssociationThe Angling Trades Association has attacked the DEFRA announcement that the minimum landing size for bass is to be kept at 36 centimetres.

The announcement comes despite a decision in August 2006 by former fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw that the minimum landing size would be increased to 40cms with the intention of raising this in future to 45cms.

In announcing the reversal, Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw acknowledged that his decision was influenced by representations from commercial fishermen and the healthy state of bass stocks at present.

The ATA has been steadfast in its support for the minimum landing size to be increased as it believes this would benefit both recreational angling and commercial fishing. It is now urging the Government to reconsider its decision, which it says will jeopardise the stocks of bass, the sport of sea anglers and the livelihoods of those in industries which rely of angling.

ATA Chairman Sean O'Driscoll said: "It seems quite ridiculous that the Government is to continue to allow the commercial exploitation of bass at sizes smaller than those which allow fish to spawn for the first time. This flies in the face of the principles of sustainability and undermines the campaign to ensure that our sea fish stocks are available for enjoyment by recreational anglers.

"DEFRA appears to have caved in to the lobbying of commercial fishermen, and that is simply not acceptable if it wants to maintain dialogue and co-operation with recreational angling. We need to see positive action, not broken promises," he said.

He added: "The move is also completely illogical from a financial viewpoint. Research into the value of those species captured both by angling and commercially shows that the economic activity associated with angling equals or exceeds that of commercial fleets. It is not just anglers' sport that is now being jeopardised, it will also affect the livelihoods of charter boat skippers, coastal hotels, tackle shops and all the other sectors which rely on plentiful fish stocks."

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