Sea anglers angry as advice over fish quotas is ignored

Billy Lambert shows his dad John, tackle shop owner of Avenue Angling, how to do it by catching this

Billy Lambert shows his dad John, tackle shop owner of Avenue Angling, how to do it by catching this roach on Christmas Eve. - Credit: Archant

Angry sea anglers have joined expert marine scientists in condemning the latest round of European fish quotas as being 'utterly irresponsible'.

The smouldering discontent with EU fisheries ministers burst into flames when it became clear that the United Kingdom fisheries agreement, under the ruling of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), did not take note of scientific advice that some species demanded a more rigorous protection regime.

Inshore bass are a sea angler's favourite quarry and despite being prominent on the fish gourmet menu, the UK Bass Anglers' Sport Fishing Society has urged that all specimens, of whatever size caught on rod and line, should be released alive and restrictions on net fishing beefed up.

Bass are a warm water species once confined to south coastal waters of the UK.

But in the past two or three decades, these shoal fish have appeared in more northern areas where temperatures are rising due to climate change.

Today they are known to spawn in or around most east coast estuaries, which have become fertile longshore netting venues for commercial fishermen.

Hence anglers' concern for the future of these silver-flanked, hard-fighting specimens has been backed by scientists' recommendations for a 70pc reduction in landings.

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Yet this month at the annual gathering of European fisheries ministers, including our own George Eustice MP, it was announced that no deal had been reached to conserve UK bass stocks.

Tony Thomas, one of the leading lights in the Holt Sea Angling Club and a valued match organiser for local and national beach competitions, declared he was not surprised the advice from marine biologists and the angling fraternity had been ignored.

'The trawling industry always comes first and it is increasingly obvious that our own government supports European commercialism when it comes to considering fish conservation and our own rod and line sport,' he said.

Among other species the scientists advised a quota cut of 20pc for cod, but it was increased by five per cent.

The popular hake required a reduction of just four per cent landings to hold its own, but an increase in 11pc was approved. Our own North Sea dabs and flounders required a joint catch reduction of 48pc. The outcome was a nil cut.

It has been reported our government could be persuaded to act in the public interest on these issues.

But as Thomas observed, that would be a first.

n While on the subject of salt water, if the yellow trucks last week had accidentally dumped two loads of salty road grit into the Norwich River Wensum, they would not have done worse than Mother Nature, whose relentless Friday night downpour washed a nasty chemical cocktail off the roads into the river along the yacht station, an important match angling venue.

It was there that the popular Jim Boulton Memorial was staged on Sunday when contestants discovered they were fishing in a muddy brine, potent enough to cure kippers ready for the smoker.

Disappointed event organiser Pete Swan said: 'The fish were still there, but the salt water off the roads pouring through Bishop's Bridge put them off their feed.'

Simon Pointer travelled from Marham to win with a brace of bream and a few roach totalling 7lb 14oz and only four others required the scales.

At the Barford Open on the Railway and Willow Lakes, a close encounter ended with Jimmy Brooks (Middy) winning with 61lb 8oz, Rod Finch (Deben) was top at Mill Farm with 96lb 10oz, Jim Randell triumphed with the Oddfellows at Barford with 54lb 20z and Sid Huggins (Sensas) was first at Cobble Acre with 39lb 11oz.

n The New Year match calendar opens up with the Barford Winter League Series for teams of five and organiser Daniel Brydon expects a full entry of 10 East Anglian outfits to compete. If recent results on the Pleasure, Railway and Willow lakes are any guide, competition will be fierce to topple title holders Matrix.

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