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As most of you will already be aware, the Angling Trust and its conservationist partners are currently running a campaign to save the bass (sea bass), stocks of which have dwindled to crisis levels as a result of commercial overfishing and the use of gill nets.




You can read in what follows my personal submission to George Eustace, the Fisheries Minister, and to the PM and to my own MP. I urge you to write your own version of the case for hook and line fishing only being permitted in fishing for sea bass. It matters little how confident you are about doing this, the important thing is that you show the government how passionately you feel about the subject, and that politicians are thereby made aware of how many people out there, anglers and others, really care.  

Hopefully my contribution below will give you some ideas. Please note that the deadline for this is 12 December. You can easily e-mail your version to the Fisheries Minister and others.

I hope you will appreciate that this campaign is important for all anglers, not just bass-heads. It is an opportunity to demonstrate angler power, to show that we anglers are unified and are looking for change. It matters not at all whether or not you personally fish for bass (I do not, as it happens). What matters is that we present a united front. Because, make no mistake, an issue will come up sooner or later which does affect you personally. 

You can also show your support on this issue by signing the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/172441 


George Eustace MP

Cc: Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Chris Philp MP

Subject: sustainable fishing for sea bass

The EU Fishing Opportunities meeting takes place on 12 December 2016. This will be a crucial day in the history of the sea bass in European waters, stocks of which have now fallen to a critical level as a result of commercial overfishing and the use of deadly gill nets. 

I urge you, the Minister, to agree in full to the proposals put forward by the EU Commission, namely:

(a) Hook and line fishing only, to be allowed 10 months of the year, with a closed season in February and March to allow undisturbed spawning

(b) Recreational anglers to be permitted to remove 10 fish each per month (currently 1 fish per individual for 6 months of the year).

The use of fixed and gill nets in commercial fishing has led to a significant decline, if not collapse, in bass stocks. In 2014, UK gill netters landed 646 tonnes of bass, which represents more than the advised catch given by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) of 541 tonnes for the whole of the EU. The general message from ICES has been that drastic cuts in bass catches are needed; this has unfortunately been largely ignored. In 2015 the UK Fisheries Minister gave in to pressures from commercial fishing interests, to the dismay and anger of angling and conservation organisations. 

Gill netting is not selective in terms of size of fish caught: immature fish which have not yet reached spawning maturity are caught alongside bigger fish. Gill netting also causes considerable damage to other sea creatures, notably diving sea birds and dolphins, which get caught up in nets. A ban on gill netting forms part of the EU proposals, and I urge the UK Fisheries Minister to sign up to this.

The UK recreational fishing charter industry has lost out significantly through cancellations this year. This is due to an unreasonable 1-bass-per-day bag limit on recreational sea anglers. Also, there has been a severe impact on local businesses (tackle, accommodation and hospitality). It should be noted here that recreational sea fishing in the UK is worth more to the UK economy than commercial fishing, in terms of employment and economic activity. 

Since the 1980’s commercial interest in bass has steadily increased, and consistent over-fishing has brought stocks of this iconic species to near-collapse. The minimum takeable size was not increased to 42 cm until 2015, and even this represents the very minimum size at which the species is able to reproduce. 2016 marks an all-time low for numbers of spawning stock. 

I urge you to agree in full to the EU Fishing Opportunities proposals. Such agreement would help to reverse the trend for bass stocks by allowing only sustainable fishing. Commercial hook and line fishing – as opposed to netting -  together with a viable recreational fishing sector would add up to the preservation of this species and also produce a better overall economic return. 

The recreational striped bass fishery in the USA is worth $6.5 m per annum and supports over 63,000 jobs. Furthermore, it attracts angling tourism from all over the world. Clearly, with the EU reforms in place, the UK could benefit from this market, and it would of course contribute significantly to the economic regeneration of depressed coastal areas.

Yours sincerely


RJ Sturdy

Ps: my credentials: I am a lifelong angler, member of and Ambassador for the Angling Trust, and have the economic wellbeing of the UK at heart.


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bass, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust