BASS are urging the Fisheries Minister, Jonathan Shaw, to adopt a strong position ahead of the review of the Common Fisheries Policy by 2012. BASS are demanding that UK national and regional legislation created for the protection of our close-inshore fisheries apply to all vessels fishing within the UK’s 12 mile limit, whatever their nationality.
2012 may still seem a long way off, but there is much work to be done to agree the UK’s position in readiness for the next formal ten-year review.
Of all the issues that most concern both anglers and inshore commercial fishermen, the amount of access allowed to other EU nations to fish-stocks within close inshore waters probably causes the greatest concern.
Although the previous review in 2002 allowed EU nations to create their own conservation rules within their own 6 to 12 mile zone (to which some other country’s fleets have ‘grandfather rights’ of access), such rules can only apply to foreign vessels with the agreement of those nations, and the EU.
This has led to UK conservation rules such as those preventing pair-trawling for bass, and the protection of tope, both prized sport fish, only applying to UK vessels, whereas foreign boats fishing alongside UK boats close to our shores are not subject to such restrictions, considerably weakening the effectiveness of such legislation.
Of even greater concern is the reluctance of fishermen and Sea Fisheries Committees to adopt conservation measures within our own six mile limit (which is reserved for UK licensed vessels only), when foreign boats fishing only just outside the current six mile limit can legally ignore such measures. It was this situation that allowed the UK commercial sector to oppose the increase in the bass MLS from the current 36cm (650 grams) to 45cm (1 kilo).
BASS Restoration Project chairman John Leballeur said “It is essential for the adoption and effectiveness of UK fisheries conservation rules that they should apply to all, and that UK fishermen are not put at a disadvantage when trying to protect the valuable inshore stocks upon which both anglers and commercial fishermen depend”
“It is time to beef up the UK position to ensure a lasting legacy that will improve our fishing in the years and decades far beyond 2012”.