EU imposes sea bass trawling ban

Angling International reports, 21st January 2015: “The recreational fishing sector has welcomed an EU Commission decision to introduce emergency measures that will alleviate the ‘imminent and serious’ threat to European sea bass stocks.

In a move of significant benefit to the recreational fishing industry, the Commission has imposed a pelagicpelagic The ecological area consisting of the open sea away from the coast and the ocean bottom. The pelagic zone contains organisms such as surface seaweeds, many species of fish and sharks and some mammals, such as whales and dolphins. Pelagic animals may remain solely in the pelagic zone or may move among zones. (open sea) trawling ban likely to take effect before the end of this month [January 2015] and running until the end of April. The period covers the species’ critical spawning season.

“These measures will protect the stock from being targeted when it is at its most vulnerable,” says the Commission’s announcement. “Pelagic trawling in the spawning season makes up 25% of the impact on the stock.”

Areas subject to an EU trawling ban for sea bass include Vlla, IVb and IVc.

Areas subject to an EU trawling ban for sea bass include Vlla, IVb and IVc.

Areas affected include the Celtic Sea, the Channel, the Irish Sea and the southern North Sea. The Commission, the executive arm of the EU, will work with the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands to implement the ban. Regions affected by the ban are identified by ICES as Divisons IVb and IVc and VIIa (see map).

The ban is among a package of measures aimed at averting the collapse of declining sea bass stocks. Further measures relating to other fisheries may be necessary at a later date, says the Commission.

The decision is a victory for the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), which has long campaigned for more protection for bass stocks. The move was also welcomed by the UK, which had called for the Commission to use its powers to invoke emergency action. However, it is less likely to impress France, which accounts for the biggest share of sea bass. “The EAA is very happy about these emergency measures,” said Jan Kappel. “The next step will be follow-up measures for other commercial fisheries and recreational fishing.”

The Commission took its decision at a meeting in Brussels on Friday [16th January 2015]. It follows the failure of member states of the Fisheries Council to agree on ways to resolve the issue, despite being warned that numbers of spawning bass are heading towards the lowest levels in history. The current fishing mortality among sea bass is almost four times higher than the stock can sustain, they had been told.
A further red flag had been raised by recommendations from ICES, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, that an immediate 80% reduction in sea bass was necessary to avoid a total stock collapse.

Source: Angling International, 21st January 2015. For full details, see


Marinet observes: This action by the EU has taken a long time in coming, and only after ICES announced that the stock was in imminent danger of reproductive collapse. Why does the EU manage fish stocks on this “crisis basis”? Why is it incapable of acting reasonably, with foresight , and in good time? These questions remain unanswered. As do a number of other questions relating to these emergency measures.
Firstly, why is the ban limited to 25% of the annual catch when ICES says the ban should be at least 80% if the spawning stock is to recover.
Secondly, it is unclear at the present time whether the trawling ban will apply to ICES Divisions VIIh and VIIe which are the main sea bass spawning grounds.
Thirdly, will these “emergency measures” set a new minimum landing size of 46 cms which is considered essential if female sea bass are not be caught before they become sexually mature. As a result, are we still looking at measures which are too little, and too late?

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