New catch limits to save the sea bass
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Emergency measures are being drafted to save the threatened sea bass.
Anglers fear stocks are on the verge of collapse because of over-fishing of their breeding grounds.
Now EU officials are proposing tough new catch limits in a bid to save the species.
They include a ban on trawling in areas of the southern North Sea, English Channel and Irish Sea where bass congregate each spring to spawn.
Those who fish for their supper from Norfolk's beaches face a bag limit of three bass a day, while the minimum size for taking the slow-growing fish will be be increased from 36 to 42cms.
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Anglers have campaigned for size limits to be increased, because a 36cms bass could be below breeding age, meaning fish are killed before they have a chance to reproduce.
The European Commission is also proposing to limit catches for commercial bass fisheries.
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Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, said: 'Bass anglers have been calling for action to protect stocks for nearly a decade and it seems that the UK government and European Commission have at last acted, in the face of undeniable scientific evidence and a concerted campaign by the Angling Trust and BASS [the Bass Anglers Sport Fishing Society].
'The immediate emergency measures that have been confirmed are very welcome and the intention to follow these up with further restrictions on commercial exploitation is encouraging.'
Nigel Horsman from BASS added: 'This is a great day for Dicentrarchus Labrax, the fabulous European Sea Bass, and what we have been working so hard and waiting so long for.
'We also look forward to the production of a long term management plan for bass, which will lead to healthy stocks of all sizes of bass for the benefit of everyone who uses this stock sustainably.
'We know that recruitment to the adult stock will be weak for the next few years, but I hope these measures will ensure that the current stock remains broadly stable until environmental conditions allow a full stock recovery.'