The NFFO has written to Fisheries Minister to express exasperation that flexibilities in bass bycatch arrangements will not be made available to UK fishermen until halfway through this year.
Seabass Catch Limits
It is with some incredulity that we have learnt that the increased catch limits for bass agreed with the EU before Christmas will not be available to UK fishermen until mid-year. Meanwhile, EU vessels, some operating up to six miles of the UK coastline, will be able to utilise those higher limits with immediate effect.
The explanation that a new statutory instrument is required, and that this form of legislation takes time, is a poor excuse and does not sit well with the Government’s assertion that independent coastal state status will allow the UK to deliver a more agile and effective fisheries policy than the CFP.
To be clear, for the period British fishermen are denied access to the higher catch limits, they will be forced to discard valuable seabass caught as an unavoidable bycatch. The changes to the bycatch limits, by providing vessels with more flexibility, were expressly made to address this unacceptable by-product of the bass regulations.
We would be grateful if you could take every step available to you to fast forward the legal process. It does not bode well for the future if every adjustment to the UK rules is stalled, whilst European vessels operating on our doorstep enjoy a significant advantage.
Bass limits for 2022 agreed with the EU in December and reflected in the agreed record:
- Hooks and line from 5.7 tonnes per year per vessel, up to 5.95tonnes
- Fixed gill nets from 1.4 tonnes per vessel per year up to 1.5 tonnes
- Trawl/ beam trawl– 760kgs per two months, up from 360kilos per month, within 5% per trip limit