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Bag limit for seabass in the last part of 2018!

Bag limit for seabass in the last part of 2018!

From the first of October till the end of 2018 anglers are allowed to keep one seabass for the table per person per day. This success has a long history.

Until September 30 angling for seabass was restricted to catch and release only in 2018. This policy was based on the first scientific advice of ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea). After a firm lobby of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) and her members, among which Sportvisserij Nederland, in December 2017 the European Commission asked ICES to take a closer and critical look at her own report. A startling request in a time when there even was talk of a total ban for recreational seabass fishing.

Homework, take two

The reason for the EAA lobby was the conclusion of ICES that the ever stricter rules for recreational angling – with a closed season of half a year and a bag limit of one sea bass in 2017 – did not reduce the influence of angling on sea bass mortality figures.
That simply could not be true and on top of that there was no one who could explain this 'fact'. In the end the ICES scientists were left with no other option then to do their homework again.

Minimal effects

ICES carried out a recalculation in the first half of 2018 with the help of the recreational angling sector. The results were spectacular. The influence of recreational angling on sea bass mortality was found to be many times smaller than initially was claimed. This is partly due to the fact that post catch survival rates are high when fishing with rod and line. Combined with two strong year classes (in 2013 and 2014) this explains why it is possible that recreational sea anglers can take home one sea bass for the table in a responsible manner. 

Growing recognition

"Our strong lobby has paid off", says David Vertegaal, senior policy officer recreational sea angling at Sportvisserij Nederland. “It says a lot that no less than two fisheries ministers have advocated restoring the bag limit this year. Moreover this is the first time that the recreational angling sector has been assessed as an independent actor within the Common Fisheries Policy. This means the recognition for angling is growing.”

Rules 2019

As ICES predicts significantly more sea bass for 2019, the total 'extraction' of this species may double to 1,789 tonnes in total compared to last year. The EAA therefore argues for a bag limit of three fish per angler per day and an open season of eight months for recreational fishing in 2019. With these measures the influence of recreational angling on sea bass mortality is still very reasonable. In addition, the great socio-economic value of recreational sea bass fishing should be taken into account in management measures.

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