The Case for the Conservation of Grey Mullet through “Recreational Only” status

National Mullet Club �” Publicity

Tuesday May
15th 2007
the Vice Chairman of the National Mullet
Club, Steve Smith, made a presentation to the All Party Parliamentary
Group on Angling. This meeting was attended by MPs of all parties and
by members of the House of Lords and the chairman was Martin Salter

Steve provided
an introduction to the Grey Mullet species, outlining their fighting
qualities, ready accessibility and importance as an entry species into
recreational sea angling. He outlined some of the challenges faced by
the species, among them being their particular vulnerability to local
netting, slow growth and a bi-annual breeding cycle.

The low
commercial price of Grey Mullet and their poor culinary qualities, make
this species an ideal starting point for recreational-only status �”
there is in fact no species better positioned for such

Articulating the importance of progress via the Marine Bill,
currently in the White Paper discussion stages, Steve argued strongly
for real and visible progress on the protection of the inshore fishery
around the
UK coastline. He cited the successful pilot
programme on the
Yorkshire and North East

which has benefited recreational sea anglers and commercial boats

Steve stressed
the need for the Bill to provide more comprehensive empowerment for
Defra in managing fisheries. Currently the only provision available is
to restrict fisheries on Conservation grounds. Whilst necessary, this
policy requires a lengthy timeframe for collection of data, research
and analysis and subsequent decision making. During all of this time
the fish stock continue to be exploited. Powers to restrict, even
close, commercial fisheries on socio-economic grounds to benefit
recreational sea angling were powerfully presented and received
analysis, scrutiny and a good measure of acceptance from the meeting.
The economics behind this align closely with those of other
recreationally important species such as Salmon and Migratory Trout.

If the
Government is to convince recreational sea anglers that it intends
improving their fishery then significant measures need to be included
in the Marine Bill to benefit recreational sea angling. Defra must take
powers to introduce management plans for recreationally important
species such as mullet and effective controls on commercial fishing
such as the Golden Mile as a pre-requisite to convincing anglers that
their sport will improve. Whilst the NMC recognises that measures such
as the Golden Mile might require further primary legislation,
demonstrable improvements are absolutely essential if the vexed matter
of licensing is to become a realistic consideration.

Some interesting
facts that arose during the meeting included the recognition that there
are about 14,000 jobs genuinely dependent upon commercial sea fishing
UK. Half of these jobs are afloat, the others
ashore and relatively few are in competition for
recreationally-important species in inshore waters. Government figures
suggest there are one million households that have at least one person
who goes sea angling at least once a year and recreational sea angling
supports around 19,000 livelihoods (source: Drew Report). 

The Angling APPG Chairman, Martin Salter

 â€œIt was a fantastic presentation
from Steve on behalf of the National Mullet Club and provided a good
opportunity for Parliamentarians to learn more about the potential of
this sporting species. I have asked Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw for
a meeting with myself and the Mullet Club to discuss measures to
protect the species and promote recreational angling.”

The full presentation materials can be found on
the website of the NMC at

Smith, Vice Chairman National Mullet Club.

May 2007