Proposal to raise the minimum landing size for bass to 48cm in Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight
All the evidence demonstrates bass of the current minimum landing size (MLS) of 36cm in length will not yet have had a chance to reproduce. Over recent months the restoration team of the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (B.A.S.S.) has been searching for routes to get an increase in the minimum landing sizes (MLS) back on the agenda of policy makers. One route identified is via the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA) – bodies tasked with providing sustainable management of local inshore sea fisheries, with powers to set local fisheries bylaws to support their aims.
The B.A.S.S. restoration team led by Dorset based member Nigel Horsman have been campaigning to the Southern IFCA (an area that covers Dorset, Hampshire and the IoW) to for an increase in the MLS in this area from its current 36cm level to 48cm. This proposed figure is based on the research that shows most bass are not capable of breeding until they have reached at least 42cms (48 cms represents the minimum breeding size plus one year of growth). It is also proposed that there is an appropriate increase in the minimum net size in order to protect bass below this length from being caught and discarded as bycatch.
The key points of the proposal and of how such change makes sense for bass stocks, the local costal economy, anglers, and even the local commercial fishermen are available here:
B.A.S.S. will be presenting these arguments to the Technical Advisory Committee, at 2.00pm on the 17th November at Bournemouth Town Hall. The Technical Advisory Committee will then report to the full Southern IFCA committee at their next public meeting which will be held on 15th December at 2.00pm in the Council Chamber, Poole Civic Centre. There will be vote on the proposal at the December meeting, which if it goes in our favour would set off a period of consultation lasting several months, before the committee can finally change local bylaws to support the proposal.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves! The amount of support demonstrated towards such changes before the December vote is likely to be crucial in influencing whether the Sothern IFCA begins to move forward with the proposal. The support of yourself and anyone you know that is favour of such measures is therefore massively encouraged. You can help influence the outcome through your presence at the November and December meetings, as even though we cannot verbally contribute to these debates, a show of strength (at meetings rarely ever attended by the public) would demonstrate to the committee there is much support for the measure. Secondly, (and just as importantly) you can influence the committee through writing letters or sending emails to the addresses below (please send them after the first meeting on 17th November).
If we are successful and the Southern area IFCA adopts these proposal, it makes targeting other IFCAs with similar suggestions in the future an even more worthwhile enterprise. So given all this, it is no exaggeration to claim this proposal represents the best chance in years to improve the management of a resource that is clearly so valuable to so many of us here on The Lure Forum.
I know all this committee stuff sounds a bit drab, BUT it really doesn’t matter whether you know or care at all about fisheries politics, or whether or not you are a member of B.A.S.S. The key thing that matters is whether you as an individual care about the quality of your bass fishing in the years to come. So if you live OR ever fish in this area (and even if you don’t!) YOU as an individual can make a difference by telling the IFCA members that you support the proposed changes. The more letters and emails they receive the greater chance of these proposals being adopted. The campaign to date has moved fast and the signs so far have been encouraging – but there is a very long way to go. So if you support these proposals, anything you can do would be brilliant, as chances to bring about more bigger bass in the future are rare indeed!
Keep an eye on the BASS web site for updates. I am also happy to be contacted if you have any specific unanswered questions etc after you have looked at the BASS web site.
Matt Spence (B.A.S.S. member 2204).
Send letters or emails to:
Dr A C Jensen, Chairman of Southern IFCA
IFCA Office 64 Ashley Road