July 2015 – News

News emerged this month that the minimum retention size for bass would be increased to 42 cm, from the existing 36cm as part of a range of measures which have been brought in to stop the alarming decline of this species. The new minimum size will come into force from the 1st September and will apply to both recreational and commercial catches. Other measures have included a three bass a day bag limit on anglers and restrictions and limits on commercial fishing for bass, especially in the breeding season during the spring. While there have been some anglers who have criticised the majority appear to believe that this is an appropriate measure. There are concerns, however, that a larger minimum size could lead to higher commercial discards of undersize bass, and questions over how the new minimum retention size will be enforced for both recreational and commercial catches. Read more here.

The seventh shark attack on a human in less than three weeks off the coast of North Carolina has led to concern and in some cases panic. In the latest attack a 68-year-old man suffered injuries to his ribs, legs and hands after he attempted to fight off a shark which attacked him while he was swimming in waist deep water with his son. Last month a sixteen year old boy and a twelve year old girl were both attacked within an hour of each other with both losing an arm, and four other attacks have occurred. To put the number of attacks into perspective there had been just 55 shark attacks in North Carolina between 1905 and 2014. It was believed that an unusual combination of factors including warmer than average weather, higher salinity levels in the water and plentiful fish stocks leading to the attacks. There was also concern that the attacks would lead to people hunting and killing sharks, in a similar manner to the Australian shark cull which took place earlier this year. Read more on this story by clicking here.

While issues over fish stocks and damage to the marine environment have a relatively high media profile the issue of ocean acidification is one which is rarely mentioned. The Guardian this week pointed out that ocean acidification, which is caused by greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions, would have “massive and irreversible” impacts on the ocean by the year 2100, with many major issues emerging well before that date. The Guardian also pointed out that modest cuts to greenhouse gas emissions would make little difference, and only substantial cuts would help stop the process of ocean acidification. Read the Guardian story here.

The remains of a strange and as yet unidentified creature was found washed up on a Russian beach this month. The creature looked somewhat like a dolphin but was covered in fur and appeared to have a long beak-like mouth. The creature had also been ripped apart and had parts of its rib cage open. See pictures of the sea creature in the Daily Express by clicking here.

A report released by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) has recommended the first increase in commercial cod catches in years, as stocks of the species have climbed above danger levels. The report states that the numbers of cod have risen in the North Sea (as well as in the massively overfished Grand Banks of Canada) simply because commercial catches of cod have been reduced. While no one knows if the cod fisheries of the North Sea and the Grand Banks will ever reach their former size it is certainly good news that stocks of this species are increasing.

A large thresher shark was caught by an angler fishing off the Welsh coast last month. The shark was caught by David Thomas around 17 miles off the coast of Milford Haven after a five hour battle. Once on the boat the shark weighed in at around 266lb and was photographed and released. Another 200lb+ thresher shark had been caught in the same area a few days previously. See pictures of the thresher shark on the BBC website by clicking here.