The destruction of the Sea Bass population is an “unfolding environmental disaster”.
It will probably be no great surprise to sea anglers that our Bass our under threat, perhaps you've seen it in the media or perhaps your own catch reports echo a similar sentiment, but something needs to be done to protect this wonderful saltwater predator.
Through the years, due to the increasing pressure we've put on our oceans, there has been a massive decline in most species of fish however until I recently received some information from the SOS group (Save Our Sea Bass Group) I wasn't aware to the extent that Bass stocks had suffered/been suffering.
The SOS or Save Our Sea Bass group has been created to try and protect the species and to ensure that the Bass, a fish close to sea anglers hearts, survives for future generations.
Here's some information taken from the SOS website...
Scientist said in April 2015: “The spawning stock biomass is declining towards the lowest historically observed level. The current fishing mortality is unsustainable and almost three times higher than FMSY” (FMSY is the maximum amount that can be fished sustainably).
In June 2015 the sea bass spawning population for 2016 was estimated at only 5,278 tonnes, down an appalling 24% in just one year (or 30% if we use the 2014 estimate for 2015: 7,591 tonnes).
To put this into context, between 2010 and 2013 average Sea Bass landings (commercial plus recreational) were 5,667 tonnes. So in 2016 the total Sea Bass spawning population will be less than the average landings per year between 2010 and 2013.
In June 2015 the scientists recommended total landings for 2016 should be just 541 tonnes, i.e. a cut of 90% from the 2010 to 2013 average landings.
How much impact will the recent cuts have in 2015? We have pieced together the various estimates from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (“STECF”) and the EU Commission and believe that the most optimistic view is that the cuts will reduce landings in 2015 by a maximum of 40%, from 5,668 tonnes to 3,465 tonnes.
In 2015, after years of political deadlock, with the help of considerable grass roots pressure from recreational anglers and conservationists across the EU, the EU Commission has succeeded in persuading the EU Member States to agree to a number of emergency measures to try to save the Bass, these included...
- A temporary ban (ended 30 April 2015) on mid-water trawling for Sea Bass, to protect them whilst they aggregate before and during spawning.
- A 3 fish per person, per day, bag limit for recreational angling (until 31 December 2015).
- Monthly Vessel Catch limits for 2015 and in amounts tailored to each different method of fishing (until 31 December 2015).
- A closure around Ireland (Celtic Sea, Irish Sea, South of Ireland and West of Ireland) for all EU commercial Sea Bass fishing (until 31 December 2015).
- An increase in the Minimum Conservation Reference Size from 36cm to 42cm for commercial and recreational fishing North of the Bay of Biscay (from 1 September 2015).
However is this really enough? We fear not, so that's why here at Angling Direct we are proud and pleased to support the SOS campaign and would ask other anglers, not just sea anglers, but all anglers, to do the same.
If you want to get involved or want to find out more information then please visit the following website, by clicking the link below...