Concerning news for anglers emerged this month when a press release from the European Commission put forward the proposal that fishing for bass could be completely banned for recreational anglers in the first half of 2016. The ban would also apply to commercial vessels and would be followed up by a one bass per day bag limit for recreational anglers in the second half of 2016. The measures – which it is important to note are only proposals at this stage – are part of a wider package of measures which are designed to increase bass stocks, which have declined alarming in recent years. However, both recreational anglers and commercial fishermen will be taken aback by the severity of the proposals, and there will be a huge amount of resistance if the European Commission pushes ahead with the ban on bass fishing. Read the full EC press release by clicking here.
The Angling Trust immediately called on the European Commission to drop the proposals to ban bass fishing for the first half of 2016. The Angling Trust said that the EC was “picking on the wrong target” and pointed out that anglers catch a much smaller amount of bass than the commercial fishing industry and anglers could also return and fish they catch. Read the full response of the Angling Trust here.
Footage emerge this month of Deep Blue, a 20ft great white shark which is thought to be one of the largest ever caught on camera. The shark was filmed by divers (who were safely protected in a cage) off the coast of Mexico. The shark, which is a female had previously been filmed in 2013 and was recognisable due to her large size as well as a number of distinctive scars which she has picked up over her estimated 50-year lifespan. The footage of Deep Blue will be show on a documentary which will be aired on the Discovery Channel, while pictures of the shark can be viewed here.
An in-depth piece of investigative journalism by The Guardian revealed deeply disturbing abuses of migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry. The report stated that unscrupulous fishing vessel owners used loopholes in immigration law to get non-EU migrants from countries such as India, the Philippines and various countries in Africa to Irish ports such as Cork and Galway. Once there the migrants would be set to work on whitefish and prawn trawlers but have to put up with horrendous conditions including sleep deprivation, extremely long hours and being paid far less than Irish and EU crew members. It was claimed that some of the migrants would put up with the conditions as they still earned more than they would back home, while others worked in the knowledge that they would be deported if they complained. The Guardian claimed that these practices were widespread in the Irish commercial fishing industry, and the Irish authorities had turned a blind eye to the issues. Read the full report here.
An Asian foods supermarket in London was heavily criticised this month for stocking crabs which were still alive alongside fish fillets in its chiller cabinets. Korea Foods in south-west London packaged the live crabs in clingfilm with their legs and claws held together with elastic bands. Despite complaints from some shoppers, staff at the supermarket claimed that they were doing nothing wrong and the method of storage meant that customers got the freshest crabs possible. If the shop had been stopped from selling live crabs this may have had knock on effects for anglers who purchase live peeler crabs from fishing tackle shops. However, environmental officers from the local council found that the supermarket was not doing anything illegal. Despite this the supermarket suspended the sale of live crabs shortly after the story broke, and it is unknown if they are back on sale. Read more here.
Fishermen in Scotland called for an end to the “battle” which has seen tons of fishing gear dumped at sea. It was reported that static fishing gear, such as crab and lobster pots, was being towed away and dumped by unscrupulous skippers of trawlers and other fishermen who use other types of mobile gear. Not only is this behaviour immensely costly to the fishermen who lose their gear, but it is also seriously damaging to the environment as the crab and lobster pots will continue to catch and will also pose a threat to marine creatures for years to come. The report stated that sound fishermen had lost tens of thousands of pounds of fishing gear and that in some cases deliberate vandalism was the cause of the lost gear. Read more on this story here.
At the end of November the BBC reported that around forty dead dogfish (which the BBC refer to as catsharks for some reason) were found washed up on Chesil Beach in Dorset. Due to the way in which the dogfish had been cut it was believed that an unscrupulous angler was responsible for killing the dogfish and then throwing them into the sea where they then washed up onto the beach. No matter how much of a bait stealing pest dogfish can be there is absolutely no reason for anglers to kill dogfish in this way, and the publicity this incident has generated will have unfortunately shown the sport of angling in a bad light. Read the BBC News report on this story by clicking here.