Campaigners call for review of Guernsey Sea Fisheries

Sea Fisheries patrol boat the Leopardess Sea Fisheries are responsible for protecting the fishing limit, which was extended in February

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A campaign group has called for a full independent review of Guernsey's Sea Fisheries department.

It follows concern about a 40% decline in local bass stocks in 12 months.

The Save Our Bass Group, which said it more than 2,000 supporters when it was formed in 2005, described protection as "embarrassing".

Sea Fisheries said it had "insufficient evidence to justify a ban on commercial fishing", and to be effective it might have to be introduced Europe-wide.

When Save Our Bass formed it raised concerns about the large quantities of bass being caught by commercial fishermen, especially non-local pair trawlers.

The campaigners said this would have severe long term impact on the stocks of the slow maturing fish.

They said Sea Fisheries - which is part of the Commerce and Employment Department - had not done enough to protect the species and should be held to account for the decline.

The campaigners have called for a review of the organisation and its working practices to see if they are capable of fulfilling the "fundamentally critical" role of protecting island resources.

In a statement Sea Fisheries said: "Even if action was taken to ban commercial bass fishing on local boats, it would not necessarily bring about increases in abundance in local grounds as the reasons behind the general stock decline cannot be solely, or with particular confidence, attributed to commercial fishing.

"Given that we already know that the bass stock is highly migratory (that is, bass don't spend their whole life history within Bailiwick waters), any management measures must be applied at an EU level to stand a chance of achieving a successful outcome."

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