Government minister pledges to look at the issue of bass fishing

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A GOVERNMENT minister has pledged to revisit the issue of EU bass fishing restrictions, but has called on MPs to be patient, after they raised concerns with him in a parliamentary debate on the subject.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes spoke in the debate, citing the experience of local small-scale fishermen from Warsash, who are being badly hit by the new rules.

She said: ‘I speak on behalf of the small-scale coastal fishing community in my constituency, based on the River Hamble in Warsash, which has been fishing the Solent for centuries.

‘Today the local fishermen own small inshore fishing vessels, which I recently visited. They use a rod and line, and long lines to catch bass. Their families have been fishing the Solent for generations, but life is hard for them. They do not fish for recreation, but to earn a living.

‘However, after taking account of their running expenses and the hours they work, they do not even earn the minimum wage.

‘Now, they face destruction as a result of the six-month ban on bass fishing, the changes to quota sizes and the increase in the minimum landing size. They are a community on the verge of total collapse.’

Miss Fernandes blamed the European Commission and the way the Common Fisheries Policy has been operated, as well as other local factors.

In reply, Rory Stewart MP, a Minister at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pledged to revisit the issue but called on ministers to be patient.