Sea anglers demand more bass protection

Trawlers in harbour Bass are not protected by commercial catch quotas

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Sea anglers in Cornwall are calling for urgent action to preserve fish stocks.

The Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers says some species, particularly bass, are in steep decline and management of fisheries is "fundamentally flawed".

The federation urged fisheries ministers to take measures to prevent a collapse of fish stocks.

George Eustice, an environment department minister, said an overhaul of fisheries protection was already under way.

Bass are not protected by commercial catch quotas but conservationists have recommended an 80% catch reduction.

'Level of abundance'

Malcolm Gilbert is the federation's conservation officer.

"We need management that creates a level of abundance so that every man stands a chance of catching a fish for his supper," he said.

"The whole fisheries management regime is fundamentally flawed at EU, national and, historically, at local level."

Mr Gilbert said anglers also depleted stocks, but that commercial fishermen caught many more fish, while anglers returned two thirds of their catch.

In a statement, The Cornish Fish Producers Organisation agreed stocks were declining but said the problem lay outside Cornwall.

"The majority of bass caught by Cornish commercial fishermen is caught in small numbers using hook and line.

"The biggest threat to bass stocks is the winter fishery in the English Channel, prosecuted almost exclusively by French trawlers and Scottish trawlers.

"No Cornish trawlers are engaged in this fishery."

Mr Eustice, who is also MP for Camborne and Redruth, said new fisheries rules were in the pipeline.

They will allow for more flexible fishing quotas and ban the practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea.

He also said the UK is making specific efforts to protect bass but co-operation with other countries was also needed as bass is a migratory species.

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