New proposals from the European Union Commission would have a devastating impact on recreational bass fishing. Now is the time for anglers to make their voices heard. Whilst angling’s representative bodies do a great deal of work to represent anglers its is surely imperative that individuals also make their views known. There are plenty of keyboard warriors on Facebook and the like who rant and condemn saying that speaking up is a waste of time. How many of these have written to their MP? Below is a letter I have sent to our local MP. I suggest that those who care about their bass fishing do the same.
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Member of Parliament for North Devon
House of Commons
Dear Peter Heaton-Jones
I have been a keen and dedicated angler for over fifty years and whilst I fish for a wide range of species I have enjoyed fishing for bass in North Devon’s coastal waters for most of my adult life.
I am Chairman of Combe Martin Sea Angling Club and run a local website www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk I have also written an angling column in the North Devon Journal for close to twenty years.
North Devon’s coastline has a rich history as a bass angling destination and recreational sport fishing makes a significant contribution to the local economy. The proposals by the European Union Commission would have a catastrophic impact on coastal tackle shops, charter boats and the holiday trade. The majority of experienced sea anglers already practice catch and release taking just the occasional fish for the table. Anglers are on the whole passionate about the safeguarding of future fish stocks and have campaigned passionately for many decades to restrict commercial exploitation. These proposals would be an injustice that could see angling severely restricted whilst commercial fishing continues.
Many anglers will be furious at these proposals yet will not bother to voice their concerns as they feel that protesting is waste of time. I would urge you to take time to listen and show your support as our local MP.
I have included below a summary of these issues as penned by the Save Our Bass campaign.
The contents below summarise my concerns regarding the future of bass angling in the UK.
I’m writing to express my serious concerns over the recent proposal by the European Union Commission that that sea anglers should no longer be allowed to retain a single bass caught in 2018 and face a complete ban on even catch & release bass angling for 6 months of the year.
This has sparked outrage amongst angling groups, tackle shops, fishing guides and charter boat skippers, particularly because the Commission is proposing that some forms of commercial fishing should continue and is clamping down hardest on the sector that has had the lowest impact on bass stocks.
Members of the public who enjoy fishing for bass from the shore or from pleasure or charter boats make a significant contribution to hard-pressed coastal economies – estimated by DEFRA to be as much as £200 million a year and far in excess of the value of the commercial fishery. Not only is it ridiculous and utterly unenforceable to suggest that anglers can stop a bass, rather than a pollock or a wrasse from biting on their bait or lure, it is monstrously unfair and completely unenforceable.
As my MP, I would like you to raise these matters in the House of Commons, if possible at the forthcoming Annual Fisheries Debate, and to write to Fisheries Minister George Eustice calling on him to:
- Firmly reject, at the European Union Fisheries Council meeting, proposals by the EU Commission which seek to restrict anglers’ historic rights to the public Bass fishery, whilst allowing commercial exploitation to continue.
- Make clear that this measure is unfair, disproportionate and completely unenforceable. It would ‘criminalise’ thousands of anglers whose activities have had the lowest impact on European Bass stocks.
- Insist that there can be no justification for increasing the already severe restrictions on anglers who have borne a disproportionate burden of recent restrictions.
- Continue to rebuild Bass stocks by limiting their commercial exploitation by restricting bass fishing to sustainable hook and line fishing only.
The sea angling community and those businesses which it sustains will be most grateful for your support.”