Under new EU restrictions, in force from January 1 until June 30, recreational anglers fishing off UK shores must release any bass that they catch. From July, fishermen will be limited to a catch a day.
Meanwhile, commercial gill boats are exempt from the restrictions for all but two months during the six month moratorium.
Ally Harvey, of Prime Angling in Worthing, described the new quotas as an ‘absolute nightmare’.
He said: “It’s going to ruin the charter trade, it’s going to affect us and it’s not going to help the (fishing) stocks.
“In this trade, lure anglers especially spend a lot of money. They’d think nothing of coming in and spending £200 to £300 on some lures.
“If they can’t go fishing, that’s £200 I’ve lost straight away. Times that by 20 or 30, and your business is going to be struggling.”
Officials say the measure is necessary to protect dwindling bass stocks.
But in negotiating an exemption for gill boats, Martin Salter, campaign chief for the Angling Trust, said politicians have ‘capitulated to commercial pressure from the very sector that has caused the decline of bass stocks in the first place’.
Mr Harvey said: “I just can’t see the logic in stopping recreational anglers keeping bass (while allowing the gill boats to continue).
“We could fish for the rest of our life and not catch the same amount of bass as they might in three hours.”
What the quota means
THE NEW EU restrictions impose a ‘zero bag’ limit on anglers fishing for bass on the UK’s shores until July.
Recreational anglers can still target the fish, but must release any bass they catch.
From July fishermen will be permitted to keep one fish per person – down from an earlier limit of three.
An exemption was, however, negotiated for commercial gill net boats. They can continue to fish for bass during the six-month, European wide moratorium, except during February and March.
Their catch limit was raised from 1,000 to 1,300 kilograms of bass per vessel, per month.
Seiners and demersal trawlers may keep bass up to one per cent of the weight of their total catch during the six month ban. From July, vessels will be allowed to retain 1,000 kilograms per month.
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