The public is being consulted over plans to further limit the size and/or number of sea bass that can be caught off the Isle of Man.
Changing laws governing the catch would aid the conservation of the species and make the Island more attractive to anglers, potentially increasing visitor numbers, says the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA).
A survey carried out for the Department of Economic Development in 2014 highlighted angling as one of three activities most suitable to target new visitors.
There is no known commercial fishing for sea bass in the Island’s territorial waters and there is already a ban on pair trawling for the species, where a large net is towed between two boats. However, commercial fishing is permissible by other means.
Recreational fishermen can currently catch and keep an unlimited number of sea bass provided they reach the minimum landing size of 43cm.
DEFA is consulting on proposals to designate sea bass solely as a recreational species, banning any form of commercial exploitation and bringing in tighter restrictions for non-commercial fishermen, including a daily bag limit and an increase in the size of fish that can be retained.
Such a strategy has been employed by the Republic of Ireland since 1990 with substantial benefits for its economy.
‘Sea bass are recognised internationally as susceptible to over-exploitation, so much so that the EU has recently introduced a raft of management measures intended to reverse their decline in numbers,’
said Richard Ronan MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture.
‘In the Isle of Man, as elsewhere, anglers mainly fish for sea bass for sport rather than food,’ said the Minister.
‘Sea angling already plays an important part in the economy, both through locals spending money on their hobby and visitors attracted here by the excellent fishing opportunities.
‘Increasing protection for sea bass would not only aid their conservation but would raise the profile of the Island as a venue for recreational fishing, through increasing the size and abundance of fish available.’
The consultation can be viewed at www.gov.im/consultations.gov (click on ‘current consultations’).
Copies can be requested from Dr Karen Galtress, Inland Fisheries Manager at DEFA, on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 1624 651544
The deadline to submit views is Monday 23 November 2015.