EU sea bass management plan

10 Jun 2014
EU Member States are preparing a sea bass management plan. © Octavio Aburto/Marine Photobank

EU Member States are preparing a sea bass management plan. © Octavio Aburto/Marine Photobank

EU Member States are preparing a sea bass management plan, which concerns the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, English Channel, and the southern North Sea.

European sea bass is one of the most important and valuable species to recreational angling and its dependant businesses, but stocks are in decline due to overfishing and poor recruitment in recent years. Something needs be done, say scientists, the European Commission and the European Anglers Alliance (EAA).

If the EU Member States involved don’t agree a regional plan soon then the European Commission might include sea bass in the TAC (total allowable catch) and quota system for the first time. EAA says that it is opposed to a sea bass TAC for a number of reasons and has developed a position paper, which it hopes will help to avoid a sea bass TAC and encourage Member States to agree a sea bass management plan.

The EAA says that preparing a sea bass management plan is a difficult task, as the lack of sufficient scientific information presents a significant problem. The change in the European fisheries management regime based on landings to one based on catches is another issue, which may need to be factored in. This sea bass plan only concerns some Northern EU waters but there are sea bass in other EU waters too. Therefore, an EU wide sea bass management plan has to be developed gradually and adjusted in the short/medium term and in the longer term.

Commercial catches in 2012 were 4060 tonnes. ICES has advised that commercial landings should be no more than 2707 tonnes this year, 2014. This is a significant reduction, but only mirrors the fact that the sea bass stock is in serious trouble. In its position paper EAA has given an estimate for the number of anglers fishing for sea bass and the socio-economic value of these anglers to Europe as a whole. EAA estimates that two million sea anglers, out of 8-10 million in total, regularly or occasionally target sea bass in EU waters. One million of these anglers fish the waters concerned by this bass management plan.

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