French small-scale fishermen are adamant that winter overfishing of bass is going to lead again to a shortfall in quota for the coastal fleet that relies on the pre-Christmas market…
A Hastings fisherman came unstuck when he tried to hide his catch from fisheries officers – resulting in a fine and conditional discharge handed down by Hastings Magistrates Court for…
Now working for the last three weeks with a daily catch limit of 50kg, French small-scale line fishermen fear a complete closure of the bass fishery any day now, at a time of year when bass is crucial to their livelihoods.
According to Plateforme Petite Pêche, representing French small-scale fishermen, commercial fishing for bass in the Bay of Biscay has been subject to an annual catch limit, set for 2018 at 2240 tonnes. But as of 22nd November, only 200 tonnes were left, less that 10% of the total at a critical time of the year.
The UK-based New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA) is writing urgently to the UK government to highlight the concerns expressed of inshore fishermen along the Channel coast concerning the impact of some of the biggest trawlers in the world operating in the confined waters between the UK and France. The finger is pointed firmly at the Dutch pelagic operators, and the concern is that these large vessels could be catching bass that is not available to small-scale fishermen.
According to French small-scale fishing group Plateforme Petite Pêche, there have been consistently poor catches for French inshore fishermen along the whole of the northern coast of France this year, with some giving up and taking their boats out of the water, or switching – if they can – to pollock or mackerel.
There’s a likelhood that bass could be excluded from the landings obligation when it comes fully into force on 1st January. Such as exclusion hinges on an interpretation of the catch limits which currently apply to bass. On the face of it, bass should be included in the landings obligation because a range of catch limits apply to different gears in which bass are caught; and the wording in article 15 of the CFP basic regulation which gives force to the discard ban does indeed refer to “catch limits.”
French artisanal fishermen’s group Plateforme de la Petite Pêche Artisanale Française claims that this is the time of year when sea bass under the greatest pressure and is calling for a wider winter moratorium.
A wrong decision has been taken on sea bass, according to the NFFO team that took part in this year’s December Council, and their opinion is that restrictions will lead to increased bass mortality and increased discards.
The first meeting of the Commission for Benthic and Demersal Species of the Bay of Biscay Commission Espèces Benthiques et Démersales du Golfe de Gascogne (CEBDGG) has taken place, during which it took on its new mandate for bass management.