05 FEB 2016

SIMON HART FIGHTS FOR LOCAL BASS FISHERMEN IN WESTMINSTER

Simon Hart has challenged the Government over unfair restrictions that are hitting Pembrokeshire's recreational bass fishermen.

Mr Hart, a keen fisherman, led a small delegation from the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group and the Angling Trust to meet Environment Secretary Liz Truss and Fisheries Minister George Eustice to discuss the issue.

The EU has ordered a complete bass fishing ban for commercial vessels and recreational anglers until July 2016 and a monthly one-tonne catch limit for boats and a one fish per day bag limit for anglers in the second half of the year.

Mr Hart said: "EU Fisheries Ministers caved in to pressure from commercial fishing interests and granted four month exemptions to commercial hook and line and the highly damaging bass fixed gill net fishery which are responsible for 50% of landings."

At the same time anglers face draconian restrictions and are at risk of criminalisation if they try to keep the self-same bass that a netsman is free to kill during the moratorium.

Mr Hart added: "Recreational anglers are prepared to play their part in what was expected to be a fair, effective and proportionate package of measures that would help rebuild bass stocks but this has not happened.

"The recreational bag limits are grossly unfair, make an ass of the law and fail to acknowledge that recreational sea angling is the most sustainable form of bass fishing which delivers the best economic return."

Ministers accepted the proposal from The Angling Trust and the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society to work with Defra officials on a long term management plan for bass. This would include both domestic measures like bass nursery areas and EU wide proposals ahead of the December 2016 Fishing Opportunities meeting.

Commenting on this potential breakthrough Angling Society's Martin Salter said: "Fair play to ministers for meeting some of their strongest critics and being willing to work with recreational anglers on trying to secure a long term future for the bass fishery rather than simply responding to short term commercial pressures. The current situation is risking ignoring the lessons of previous stock collapses and forcing the introduction of a complete moratorium on all forms of bass fishing which would be a disaster. We must learn from good practice in the USA and elsewhere which delivers agreed resource sharing by species in line with good fishery management advice, best scientific evidence and key economic objectives."

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Simon Hart MP
House of Commons
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SW1A 0AA

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15, St John St
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Carmarthenshire
SA34 0AN

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