Commenting upon yesterday’s statement by Jonathan Shaw MP, the Fisheries Minister, that proposals to introduce a sea angling licence are to be dropped, BASS spokesman John Leballeur said “At last this administration is beginning to show some sense when talking about Recreational Sea Angling”.
At the recent ‘Angling Summit’ held in the Palace of Westminster, the minister had been told by BASS and other sea angling organisations in the most forceful terms possible that the current proposal for a sea angling licence was unacceptable to the UK’s Recreational Sea Anglers (RSA). This was especially so in the light of his decision not to increase the bass minimum landing size (MLS).
The Minister’s failure to take this decision to protect juvenile bass meant that he had lost the trust of the UK’s recreational sea anglers; the overwhelming majority of whom did not believe he was prepared to deliver any benefits to them, and yet were still expected to pay for a licence. For decades the sea anglers’ voice has been ignored whilst at the same time there has been relentless decline in both the number and size of fish available to RSA.
Does this announcement mean that the minister has begun to listen to recreational sea anglers? We hope so. We also hope that he will continue to act upon what he has been hearing, and to deliver on his promise to work with BASS and other organisations to improve the UK’s recreational bass fisheries by implementing those other conservation measures contained within the Bass Management Plan.
However, we will still need to see some positive benefits, in terms of improved fish stocks, before we can be confident that the tide really has turned.