Dare we hope that bass might actually get some protection?
There has been a fair amount of news about this EU proposal to ban pelagic trawling of bass during their spawning season, and whilst it's bloody hard not to get all overexcited and jump at least a little bit for joy, I must refer you to a blog post over on the Bass website that explains things somewhat better and lays it out to us anglers nice and clearly. I am hoping they don't mind me lifting that blog post and quoting it word for word here :
"And the winner is? (check here for the original post, written by Matt Spence of BASS). Following the inability to reach agreement on emergency measures to reduce bass landings in December, the UK is trying to get temporary emergency measures at a European Union level. A ban on mid water ("pair trawling") has been proposed for areas where pre-spawning bass aggregations accumulate at this time of year as they migrate further offshore from UK, French Dutch etc inshore waters. The measures cover most of the relevant areas and are just the sort of measure that if permanent would protect our UK bass when outside our waters, thus allowing national and regional based regulation to be effective."
"The relevant EU people meet Friday to finalise a decision but before this there is a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) when representatives from commercial fishing will attempt to influence Karmenu Vella (EU Commission, Head of Fisheries) prior to the vital vote on Friday. The predominantly French trawlers who are affected by the proposed new regulations have been reportedly lobbying hard at an EU level pleading they are not fair, as they feel it's not right they should take all the hit. The other side of the coin however is whether its right that they can take 25-30 % of all EU bass landings, by targeting bass attempting to breed, with their catches benefiting only a few big boats, nearly all of which are from one nation."
"So all of us who have campaigned hard and long for this initial breakthrough are left nervously biting our nails during the longest of dramatic pauses. It's like some television grand final; with on one side of the EU commission (metaphorically) standing our bass and the millions of European sea anglers and businesses depending on them, while on the other side is a relatively small group of well funded, subsidised fishermen and their lobbyist. All of us hardly able to breath as we wait for the announcement of the winner. Will science economics and logic finally win?"
"For many of us chewing fingers, rubbing lucky bass lures or avoiding walking under ladders might help us as we wait, yet there is one final positive action we can undertake than might influence the outcome: we to can lobby the EU head of Fisheries one last time."
"So PLEASE email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask him to support the emergency measures and remind him of the value of recreational bass angling to the economy compared to commercial fishing and tell him we need an 80% reduction in bass landings according to the EU scientists to prevent stock collapse."
"Time is of the essence though. The next 24-48 hours are crucial. So don't allow a relative few commercial fishermen backed by savvy lobbyist win this time - people who are ultimately paid with the carcasses of our bass! Then just maybe, we can soon report that things at last have begun to move in the right direction for our premier recreational sea angling fish. I just hope I survive the wait!"
So it seems that whilst the press is reporting it as a done deal, it isn't. Like Matt says, it's hard not chew fingers etc. while we wait and see what might happen. Of course it would be good as an angler to see this kind of pelagic trawling ban become permanent, but we can but hope that this potentially not insignificant step is the time when common sense comes to the fore and the EU actually does move down the road of doing something right with regards to fish stocks. Within the heaving mass of political soup that is the EU, dare we as anglers hope for a better future where future generations might be able to catch more and bigger bass?