Potentially interesting proposals for 2016 bass stocks measures

I hope the nice people at the consistently excellent Labrax Squad blog won’t mind me quoting their most recent post that refers to the European Commission's proposal for Atlantic and North Sea fish quotas in 2016 - it’s some potentially very interesting stuff and the Labrax lads to be honest have done a great job of highlighting some of the many questions and issues that need to be answered. Below is what was in yesterday’s proposal as regards bass (check here for the actual European Commission proposal):

“What about sea bass? Sea bass is a special case: real management measures for sea bass were only put in place in January 2015 and catch limits were only put in place in June 2015. The Commission is therefore building on the measures taken in 2015 to halt the dramatic decline in this important stock. Today's proposal includes a complete fishing ban for commercial vessels and recreational anglers in the first half of 2016. For the second half of 2016, the Commission is proposing a monthly one tonne catch limit for vessels targeting sea bass, and a one fish bag limit for recreational anglers. It is also proposing to maintain the closure for commercial fishing around Ireland”.

And then below is the excellent Labrax Squad blog post, and please make sure to have a look here for the original version. Hell, if you are into bass lure fishing you should following their excellent blog anyway. I haven’t had time to ask the Labrax lads if they mind me quoting their entire blog post below, but my thanks in advance to them:

“The EU Commission has just released its proposal for sea bass management measures in 2016. One of them is a complete fishing ban for commercial vessels and recreational anglers in the first half of 2016. For the second half of 2016, the Commission is proposing a monthly one tonne catch limit for vessels targeting sea bass, and a one fish bag limit for recreational anglers. It is also proposing to maintain the closure for commercial fishing around Ireland".

"The EU Commission deems these measures necessary to halt the dramatic decline in the bass stock. We should however be aware that these are only proposals from the Commission that are going to be discussed by the Ministers of the Member States at the December Fisheries Council in Brussels. And some of the ministers are very much likely going to protect the interests of ‘their’ commercial fishermen".

"So the proposed six months closure period – to protect the migrating and spawning bass populations – might not survive the Fisheries Council meeting coming December and therefore wouldn’t be applied as from 1 January 2016. It could very well be the case that the closure period will be reduced and covers the same four months as it did in 2015 (January, February, March and April)".

"In addition there are quite some other subjects in the proposal which aren’t clearly defined (yet) – e.g. bycatches of bass aren’t specifically mentioned. This could be strategy on behalf of the Commission. By not defining certain details in the proposal, there is room for negotiation and fine tuning. And you can bet that there will be some (political) horse trading going on in the coming weeks…"

"Let’s just hope that this is the start of putting together a good and sound set of management measures for 2016, in which the impact of the different forms of bass fishing (commercial and recreational) on the stock is addressed proportionally”.

I am very much going to come back to this in the near future when I know more about it and when I have had time to think about the potential ramifications. At the top of every recreational angler’s agenda will I am sure be the proposed six month ban on sport fishing for bass, and I am also very sure that just like the whole sea angling license issue, this will no doubt start some heated debates with all kinds of opinions flying back and forth!!

And in the meantime, here’s a look at my work that will be in the next issue of Sea Angler magazine which I would imagine will be out very soon.