The UK Government has come under attack for failing to increase sea bass catch limits for recreational anglers.
Save Our Sea Bass (SOS), the campaigning arm of the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS), has accused the government of ‘astonishing complacency and arrogance’ and of treating sea anglers as second class citizens.
In a press release, SOS points out that in July 2021 sea bass catches by commercial fishermen using bottom trawls and seine nets were increased by 46% and commercial shore netters were permitted to start landing and selling bass. Yet there were no concessions for sea anglers.
In December 2021, the Government increased bass catch limits for fixed netters from 1.4 tonnes to 1.5 tonnes a year and for hook and liners from 5.7 tonnes to 5.95 tonnes. But again, there was no increase for anglers.
“The Government’s position going into the December sea bass negotiations with the EU was no increases for anyone, arguing the July changes need time to bed down,” says SOS. “This was disappointing since our ‘take’ season could have been sustainably increased from nine to ten months to match commercial fishermen.
“However, it seems that some horse trading was done. The Government abandoned its position of no increases for anyone and discriminated against sea anglers by giving increases to commercial fishermen and not sea anglers.
“This is absolutely astonishing complacency and arrogance on the part of our Government. And to rub salt into the wound, this follows sea anglers finally being recognised in the Fisheries Act as stakeholders in our fisheries. This slap in the face is hardly conducive to building trust between sea anglers and fishery managers. It is a massive own goal by the Government.”
SOS is now appealing to anglers to write to MPs and the Fisheries Minister to complain about the ‘outrageous’ decision and to demand a ten-month ‘take’ season and a three-fish bag limit for sea anglers.