06 July 2016
New measures to protect and conserve bass stocks comes into force today (Tuesday 5 July).
A significant change to Jersey’s sea fisheries regulations is limiting the number of bass kept by recreational fishermen, to one fish per day, and increasing the minimum size to 42cm. This is an EU measure that is already in force in France and the UK.
In the States recently, the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce told members that he had no wish to “slavishly follow” EU regulations, but a one bass limit was the right thing to do, given the available evidence.
Set net and hooks
Additional controls on beach set nets and hooks are also due to be introduced in October. During the States debate, a number of members challenged the use of set nets and hooks but Deputy Luce provided assurances, “I am not unaware of the indiscriminate way that nets (and trots) catch fish, and I will not hesitate to reduce the limits further if more evidence comes to light."
The Minister said today, “There’s been a lot of debate about the pros and cons of these new laws, but the changes are based on the best evidence that is available and it only points one way – bass stocks are critically low. We have to take a responsible approach so we have to act quickly, and universally, and the measures must apply to all those who catch fish, whether commercially or recreationally.
“It is the right thing to do if we wish to be credible partners in the wider management of marine resources, and it is the right thing to do if we want to be seen as a jurisdiction that is prepared to weigh up the evidence and act accordingly.”
The Minister has also made a commitment that all the new laws will be closely monitored to measure their impact, and changed if necessary, “I remain committed to reviewing any new evidence that becomes available and amending the management measures appropriately.”
Deputy Luce said he was aware of views amongst the fishing community that there were too few controls on commercial fishermen. Commercial fishing is currently controlled by a licensing system which includes conditions to regulate trawling for bass. Further licence conditions are being issued today which will enable the Minister to set bass catch limits for commercial fishermen and Deputy Luce advised that officers would be stepping up checks on people fishing for bass.
The new legislation will also close a loophole that lets recreational fishermen from neighbouring jurisdictions fish in Jersey waters and take more or smaller bass than they’re allowed in their own waters.
The Minister added that he was also aware of concerns about French trawlers, but said they don’t target bass in Jersey waters – they’re normally trawling for bottom dwelling species such as skate and sole or mid-water trawling for bream.
The main changes to sea fisheries regulations (P45/2016, P46/2016, P47/2016) include:
- increase in minimum size to 42cm
- maximum one fish per day per person for recreational fishers
- maximum limit of 50 hooks per person set on the beach
- maximum limit of 100 metres of net per person set on the beach
- increase to 110mm minimum mesh size for nets set on the beach
- a permit will be required to drive on the beach to transport fishing equipment.