Bass move put back, but fight goes on says Butterwith Published: 24 August, 2007
A FISHERMENS leader today welcomed news that a controversial move to increase the minimum landing size for bass has again been put back.
And he underlined his view that it was totally unacceptable for the UKs fisheries ministry to contemplate a unilateral measure which would see English, Scottish and Northern Irish fishermen subject to a new 40cm minimum size, but the French fleet able to stick to the existing limit of 36cm.
John Butterwith, the chief executive of the North Devon Fishermens Association told FISHupdate.com that he had been told that the new UK fisheries minister Jonathan Shaw wanted to put off a decision on the issue until he had heard the views of both the commercial fishing and the recreational angling sectors.
He added: We as an industry will go along and accept multilateral issues but when the Government are telling is that this is a unilateral decision to protect bass in our waters that is a nonsense, because the French, who catch 80% of the bass in UK waters, would be able to continue to land large amounts of bass at 36cm if this plan goes ahead.
Mr Butterwith said they had already demonstrated to Mr Shawss predecessor, Ben Bradshaw, that the unilateral minimum size increase would mean increases in discards of 50% in one area and up to 75% in another.
The financial implications of that are self-evident, he said.
And we cannot even contemplate an increase to 40cm if the French are allowed to continue to land 36cm.
Mr Butterwith said the Minister wanted to meet both angling and commercial catching interests and given that it was the commercial sectors Bass Action Committee who had made representations to Mr Bradshaw, he assumed it would be the action committee who would meet Mr Shaw, although he had not been told the details of the proposed consultation.
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