To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(1) when he plans to introduce measures to conserve bass stocks for anglers; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what his policy is on the designation of bass as a wholly recreational stock; and if he will make a statement.
There are a number of measures in place to conserve bass stocks for all those with an interest in the stock. These include a minimum landing size of 36 cm, a prohibition on the use of enmeshing nets with a mesh size of between 65 and 89 mm, and a ban on fishing from boats for bass in 37 areas around the coast of England and Wales where undersized fish are particularly vulnerable to capture, known as bass nursery areas.
Bass is a particularly important stock for the inshore fishing fleet. Given the current pressures faced by this fleet and the relatively healthy state of the stock at present, I could not justify designating bass as a wholly recreational stock. However, I have announced a package of new measures that will provide benefits for stocks of bass and more widely for anglers. This includes a review of bass nursery areas and inshore netting restrictions and for consultation on the designation and design of new areas. We are also funding research exploring the use of restricted areas to benefit recreational anglers.