FISHERMAN have raised their concerns about bass fishing restrictions with the MP for Fareham.
Suella Fernandes met with the group in Warsash to hear about their issues with the new EU restrictions that came into effect at the start of this year, which they say have placed severe restrictions on the fishing of sea bass.
The Warsash fishermen – led by Stephen Matthews, skipper of SandieAnn – are concerned about the impact this will have on operators of small inshore fishing vessels, such as the cost of changing their equipment.
Mr Matthews said: ‘We understand the conservation measures coming in and why but we need a little more recognition of our problems.’
He said they were frustrated that the government was being lobbied by groups such as dog walkers and kayakers who are not affected economically by the changes, and that there was no compensation scheme for changing their existing gear.
Miss Fernandes said: ‘We can all understand the need to prevent over-fishing, and we’re told these measures have been taken to ensure bass fishing can be sustainable in future, but it does seem the restrictions are causing real problems.’
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the measures were put in place to achieve sustainable fishing for bass at EU level by 2018. A two-month ban on sea bass fishing, followed by a catch limit of one tonne per vessel a month for most commercial fisheries, was agreed.
A statement from the department said: ‘We recognise that these measures are challenging, but they are needed to recover the stock for the benefit of both the fishing industry and recreational anglers.’
Miss Fernandes promised to take the fishermen’s concerns to parliament.
She said: ‘They strongly feel that this ban is too stringent, and question the assumptions on which it was based.
‘The real threat to bass stocks seems to come from the larger French fleets operating further out, so I share the concerns that smaller vessels are being hit too.
‘I’m proud we have fishermen operating in Fareham, continuing a long maritime tradition and I want to support them.’