Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Bass by-catches - the realities of bass 'conservation'.

Peter Caunter operates an under-10m vessel, netting off the south east coast.. In this short article he provides an insight into the some of the realities of the bass fishery in his area.

The Realities of Bass Conservation

Photos of bass by-catch hauls using 100mm sole trammel nets by Peter Caunter

The attached photo is taken of a typical days catch from my vessel during last year’s spring fishery. I use 100mm sole trammel nets: please note the amount of bass.

Two points of significance: In this fishery bass can't be avoided and would have to be discarded if a moratorium on bass comes in force. Secondly, bass in my area have increased over the last few years from just odd fish some times, perhaps half a box of mainly small fish, to three, sometimes four or five boxes of large mature fish suggesting a large increase in the stock, not the drastic decrease claimed. I have fished the same spot, shooting the nets from March to June on the same tracks for over twenty years now so have a good knowledge of fluctuations in the local stocks.

This year’s O group recruitment is reported to be very good, this is backed up to me by a friend whose eel fluke nets have been clogged by thumb nail sized bass at the top of the river Stour this summer. This at least raises questions about the the evidence to justify the draconian measures the EU are threatening to put in place.

In my mind it is non- negotiable that what is in place is already way over the top as it is and not another single restriction should be even discussed .

The increase in landing size to 42cm earlier this year, has effectively closed down all inshore and estuary fisheries in the Stour and Orwell upper Thames and Medway estuaries, (along with traditional small fish fisheries like the Solent and many such places all around the UK) as 99% of bass targeted in these waters would have been under 42 cm. With a ton a month restricting the higher catchers and juvenile bass protected EU wide what more could possibly be needed ?

Full story courtesy of the NFFO.