Let’s go fishing
Well done to all those sea anglers who took part in the protest against the 2016 bass regulations. Our contributor Henry Gilbey was in Camborne, Cornwall, on April 9 to join those who had sought to make their views known to Fisheries Minister George Eustice.
Such a shame then that Mr Eustice had another engagement and failed to show up, although he had notified the protest organisers in advance. For those unaware of the regulations, sea anglers must return all bass caught in the first six months of 2016 and can keep one a day from July.
While the protest is a first small step by the sea angling community, I can’t help thinking that, firstly, any event organised by the commercial fishing industry’s lobbyists would have mobilised many hundreds, or even thousands of angry fisher folk. Secondly, it would probably have taken place in Westminster to maximise national media coverage and the number of potential protesters.
Nevertheless, the willing band of sea anglers who took the trouble to travel to Camborne certainly got the ball rolling in terms of the direct action that many campaigners have been calling for privately for many months. They even had a special call-to-action logo – Attention All Anglers (pictured top right).
As Henry stated in our report of the event on page 108: “I never thought I would see the day when sea anglers here in the UK felt compelled to gather together and go on a protest march, but this is exactly what happened.”
Sea anglers carrying banners, flags and placards were peacefully but angrily voicing their displeasure at the bass fishing regulations.
Henry asks: “Is this the start of sea anglers in the UK finally coming together and presenting a united voice for better protection of our waters and our fish stocks?” Let’s hope so.
The picture above shows veteran campaigner Malcolm Gilbert addressing some of the protesters; the stalwart of the Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers suggested the Fisheries Minster was digging himself deeper and deeper into his own pit of incompetence.
It seems that not a week passes without a new development in the bass ban saga. It was interesting to see a new campaign (‘Looks Fishy? Don’t Risk It’, below) launched on April 11 by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to target the illegal selling of fish.
Buying or selling fish through illegitimate sources damages the fishing industry, fish stocks and long-term future of the marine environment. While many will point to evidence of illegal practises in commercial fishing, we cannot deny that some anglers are not innocent in this matter either. Fish caught by recreational anglers cannot legally be sold and should not be purchased. A commercial rodand-line angler makes this point in an opinion piece kicking off our letters pages on page 34.
Now the MMO is appealing for the public to anonymously report potentially illegal sales of fish to Crime Stoppers. It has the support of the Angling Trust, and commercial fishing representative bodies. You can find out more by turning to page 109.
Away from the bass ban, it’s great to see the weather improving and that you’re getting out there and catching an amazing variety of fish, including some cracking plaice, turbot, rays, black bream, pollack and much more besides. As usual, we’re publishing a whole host of your great catches in this issue, starting on page 108.
Finally, congratulations to the winners of our Penn Clubman contest; I won’t give away the details here, so turn to page 122.