Bass management measures come into force

MEASURES to add further protection to Jersey’s bass stocks have come into force following approval by the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce.

These changes are the latest in a series of measures introduced in recent years to conserve the bass fishery. They take into account new information from the EU Fisheries Council and advice from Jersey’s own Marine Resources Panel.

Some of the measures have changed slightly from those announced by the Minister in January following advice from the Marine Resources Panel. Firstly, tighter controls will be introduced on gill netting to stop fishermen catching fish indiscriminately, and secondly, a selective hook and line fishery will be allowed, which the Minister believes will directly benefit smaller-scale commercial fishermen.

The selective hook and line fishery catch will be sold locally and the Department of the Environment will be working with fishermen to establish a labelling scheme to show consumers that the fish for sale come from a local, sustainable and well-regulated source.      

A measure that hasn’t changed from those announced is that bass fishing for recreational fishermen will only be allowed on a ‘catch and release’ basis, where fish are captured, unhooked and returned to the water.

Deputy Luce said: ‘I’ve listened carefully to the Marine Resources Panel’s views and acted on their guidance in coming to my conclusions. The measures put in place much tighter controls on gill netting, which is indiscriminate and subject to higher rates of discards. I have also taken into account the significant and potentially positive impact on some of our inshore commercial fishermen in allowing a small, low impact, selective fishery. Our view is that a well-regulated hook and line fishery is far preferable to any indiscriminate gill net one.’

He added ‘I want to make it clear that I completely understand the impact measures like these have on all our fishermen. These decisions will affect livelihoods and leisure time, but it is vital that we are committed to protecting these iconic fish. We must introduce measures that ensure the survival of the bass stock for the benefit of future generations. 

‘I would like to thank the members of the Marine Resources Panel for the work they’ve done getting these measures for bass in place. It hasn’t been easy but I am confident this package will bring Jersey to the point of having one of the most sustainable bass fisheries in Europe.’ 

From today the following changes are in place:

Commercial fishing

No targeting of sea bass fishing by commercial vessels, other than a small selective hook and line fishery

In relation to ‘by-catch’ (fish caught unintentionally while fishing)

There will be a bass by-catch allowance of 3% for vessels deploying fixed gillnets and traps

There will be a bass by-catch allowance of 3% for demersal trawlers (demersal trawlers tow a trawl, or fishing net close to, but not on the bottom of, the sea bed).

Recreational fishing

Only ‘catch and release’ fishing permitted.

 

The Minister still intends to ban set hooks and nets on beaches but a date has not been set yet.