Anglers Frustrated by Bass ‘No Show’
Anglers were furious that Fisheries Minister George Eustice failed to show up at his constituency office to hear their concerns over recently introduced bass regulations.
Source: Angling Trust
A protest had been planned to coincide with a time when the minister would normally be holding constituency surgery meetings, but Mr Eustice had another meeting to attend elsewhere in the country. The Minister was also unable to attend a special debate in Parliament on the same subject in February, leaving fellow Defra Minister Rory Stewart to face criticism from MPs on both sides of the house about the deal he struck at the EU Fisheries Council meeting last December.
The minister has claimed that he secured a good deal for sea anglers at the European Council Meeting but anglers claim the record shows he was more concerned to secure exemptions for the same commercial fishing vessels who have driven bass stocks to crisis levels.
The new regulations, approved in December, require anglers to return all bass they catch for the first six months of the year and restrict their take to just one fish a day for the rest of the year. Anglers feel that this is grossly unfair because at the same time commercial gill netting boats have had their monthly allowance increased from 1 to 1.3 tonnes this year and have been given a four-month exemption from the six-month moratorium on bass landings from January to June.
Defra’s own statistics demonstrate that recreational sea angling has far more benefit for the economy than commercial fishing, and it is much more sustainable and anglers claim the new restrictions will impact on thousands of people employed in the recreational sea angling industry, including many small businesses in coastal towns which rely on the trade from bass anglers.
Many anglers travelled long distances to attend the meeting and feel that the Minister should have made the effort to attend and to hear their concerns.
Mike Spiller, Honorary Secretary of Honiton Sea Angling Club and the Angling Trust Wyvern Region, said:
"Along with scores of other anglers I gave up a day of my weekend and I think it is despicable that the Fisheries Minister couldn’t be bothered to turn up to hear our concerns when he was aware many weeks ago that we were planning the event.
It’s another indication that the Minister is completely out of touch and hasn’t grasped the importance of sea angling to constituents, small businesses and the economy."
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said:
“The Minister must stop spinning the deal he secured in December at the EU Fisheries Council as a success. It was a disaster for the £2 billion sea angling industry and inadequate to achieve the conservation of bass stocks and it should be torn up and re-written next year.
Commercial fishing is solely responsible for the crash in bass stocks and therefore any solution must focus on restricting the nets that scoop up tonnes of fish rather than on imposing restrictions on recreational anglers with rod and line.”
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