fishing Dartmouth sea angling Devon uk charter boat shore plaice turbot bass river dart


Wednesday 23rd March - Report on local TV News this evening - Greenpeace activists deposited the carcases of three dead Dolphins outside the DEFRA offices in London, to bring renewed attention to the plight of these beautiful creatures, still being caused by Pair Trawling.

This is the sort of affirmative action that the NFSA should have initiated instead of electing to follow a policy of non-involvement.  Remove the threat from Pair Trawling and protect our valuable Bass stocks.

Monday 14th March 2005 - The Greenpeace ship has been closely shadowing pair trawlers fishing for Bass off our local coast line.  Well done Greenpeace, we applaud your heroic efforts.

Just this evening on the ITV local News, there was a report that the UK Government are taking the results of a current survey regarding Dolphin deaths linked to pair trawling back to the European Parliament, as soon as they are known, and in any case before the whole study into the problem is finally completed.  It was reported that it is considered this situation is far too important to be left for any longer than is necessary.

I also received a further Email from our friends in the Channel Islands.  They are conducting a survey and petition to establish whether you would be deterred from visiting the Channel Islands if nothing is done to prevent the wholesale slaughter of fish stocks in the waters around the Islands by commercial trawlers.  You may like to visit to register your concerns and offer your own support in this debate.  They intend to take the results of this survey to the Islands' legislature.

Sunday 13th February 2005 - Email received from Simon Boarder, a Commercial Fisherman in Jersey:

My family have worked in the fishing industry for many years, we are appalled by the complete lack of any uniformed challenge to this outrageous situation with completely indiscriminate pair trawling, which will undoubtedly be the downfall of many of our local boats.

Only two weeks ago the Guernsey fishing authorities gave two Dutch pair trawlers permits to trawl in their waters - what chance do we have ! if we cannot be united in our ban then we are the architects of our own destruction.

Since then several dead dolphins have been washed up on Guernsey shores, it is time to forget mindless parochialisms and get to grips with this situation, what sort of message are Guernsey sending out by doing this - it is absolutely abhorrent.

Anthony Lewis of the Jersey Evening Post reported and researched the story on the Dutch Pair Trawlers, the story was carried on their front page, as an Island we are totally against any form of pair trawling, why then does Guernsey do such a thing ???
I am sure Anthoney would be pleased to talk to you about his research he is contactable on 01534-873333.
Should you require any further information or indeed help in any way please contact me:
Or The Fresh Fish Company, Unit 5, Victoria Pier, St Helier, Jersey  01534-736799.

Ed: Simon every sea angler and responsible commercial fisherman shares your concern.  The front page of the "Guernsey Press" newspaper is displayed below on the 17th December.

Friday 21st January 2005 - Scottish Pair Trawlers on return to Plymouth today were shown on TV Program "Spotlight".  Skipper told interviewer that they had been pair trawling inside the 12 mile limit today.

Gave excuse that he thought the ban had been suspended due to legal difficulties regarding the wording of the legislation.  Then on return he discovered the ban is still firmly in place.

See the entry below on Sunday 12th December - Are these the same Scottish Trawlers owned by the people who allegedly earlier stated their intention of challenging the ban?

It was reported that the ban does not apply to any boats from outside the UK pair trawling within our 12 mile UK territorial waters.

Thank you Europe - what a mess!  I fully support the concept of the EEC, but do start to question the philosophy and motives in the present circumstances.

Do we have to wait until the last Dolphin or Bass swims within UK waters before this unholy mess is finally sorted out?

Will the Authorities prosecute the Scottish Pair Trawlers for today's incursion?  We're just going to have to wait and see what happens.


Email received today via Leon Roskilly of the Sea Anglers Conservation Network -

To; all interested parties

23 December 2004

Statutory instrument banning the use of pelagic PAIR TRAWLs for bass in the western channel

I attach for your information a copy of Statutory Instrument No 3397/2004 which will come into force tomorrow, 24  December 2004.

This Order prohibits fishing for bass using pelagic pair trawls within 12 miles of the coast of England in ICES area VIIe, (the Western English Channel).  Other bass fisheries, and other pair trawl fisheries (both pelagic and demersal) will be able to continue in this area.  My letter of 29 October enclosing a consultation on the draft Statutory Instrument identified derogations from the prohibition on pair trawling for those fisheries where no bycatch problem has been identified; namely

  • vessels using nets with mesh size of between 16mm and 797mm in the cod end,
  • vessels using nets with mesh size greater than 79mm in the cod end, but with no individual mesh, irrespective of its position within the net, greater than 300mm.

These derogations have been incorporated into this Statutory Instrument.

Responses to the consultation letter demonstrated concerns that vessels under 221kw are capable of pair trawling for bass.  This derogation has therefore been removed.

Other concerns raised in responses to the consultation exercise, including data on the latest abundance estimates of common dolphins, have been considered and are reflected in the final Regulatory Impact Assessment.  This is available via the Defra website at

I would be grateful if you could bring this Order to the attention of any of your colleagues who work or steam through the areas affected.

Yours sincerely

Ruth Thirkettle

Fax 0207 270 8302


Interested Parties;

Devon SFC

Cornwall SFC

Isles Of Scilly SFC

Southern SFC

States Of Jersey Dept of Ag & Fish

Guernsey Dept of Fisheries


European Federation Of Sea Anglers

National Federation Of Sea Anglers

International Fund For Animal Welfare

Sea Anglers Conservation Network

Bass Anglers Sportsfishing Soc


Cornwall Wildlife Trust

English Nature

Friends Of The Earth



Marine Conservation Society


Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society

Marine Connection



Plymouth Trawler Owners Assoc

Plymouth Fishermen's Assoc

Brixham Trawler Agents

Brixham Trawler Owners Assoc

Cornish FPO Ltd

Cornwall Inshore Fishermen's Fed

Exe Trawlermen's Assoc

Newlyn Fishing Boat Owners Assoc

Newquay Fishermen's Assoc

Padstowe Fishermen's Soc Ltd

Polperro Fishermen

South West Fpo Ltd

S W Handline Fishermen's Assoc




All licence holders with declared landings of bass from trawls

2004 No. 3397

Sea Fisheries, England  - Restriction of Sea Fishing

The South-west Territorial Waters (Prohibition of Pair Trawling) Order 2004

Made     -     -       -      -                      22nd December 2004

Laid before Parliament                         23rd December 2004

Coming into force  -      -                       24th December 2004

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State concerned with the sea fishing industry in Northern Ireland, in exercise of the powers conferred by sections 3, 5(1), 5A, and 15(3) of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967, and now vested in them, make the following Order:

Citation, commencement and extent

1.(1) This Order may be cited as the South-west Territorial Waters (Prohibition of Pair Trawling) Order 2004 and shall come into force on 24th December 2004.

(2) Subject to paragraph (3), this Order shall not form part of the law of Scotland or Northern Ireland or apply in Wales.

(3) Nothing in paragraph (2) shall prejudice the effect of section 14 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 in relation to, or for purposes incidental to, any provision which creates an offence.


2.(1) In this Order—

 “pair trawling” means fishing, by two or more vessels, carried out by a net or combination of nets; and

“the south-west territorial waters” means the sea up to 12 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea adjacent to England is measured, contained within the area known as ICES statistical division VII e (Western English Channel) namely, the waters bounded by a line beginning at a point on the south coast of England at 200’ west longitude; then in a southerly and westerly direction along the coast of England to a point on the south-west coast at 5000’ north latitude; then due west to 700’ west longitude; then due south to 4930’ north latitude; then due east to 500’ west longitude; then due south to 4800’ north latitude; then due east to the coast of France; then in a northerly and north-easterly direction along the coast of France to Cap de la Hague; then due north to the point of beginning.

(2) In this Order—

(a)     the term "within relevant British fishery limits" does not include—

                            (i)    the Northern Ireland zone;

                            (ii)    the territorial sea adjacent to Wales;

                            (iii)    the territorial sea adjacent to the Isle of Man;

                            (iv)    the territorial sea adjacent to Jersey; and

                            (v)    seas within British fishery limits adjacent to Guernsey, as defined by section 8 of the Fishery Limits Act 1976 as extended to Guernsey; and

(b)     any reference to any relevant British fishing boat "wherever it may be" does not include  a fishing boat in the territorial sea adjacent to Wales.

Prohibition on pair trawling

3.(1) Subject to paragraph 2, no British fishing boat shall participate in pair trawling for sea fish in the south-west territorial waters.

(2) Paragraph 1 shall not apply to—

(a)     fishing boats using nets with mesh in the cod end, in the mesh size ranges 16mm to 79mm inclusive; or

(b)     fishing boats using nets—

                            (i)    with mesh sizes in the cod end greater than 79mm; and

                            (ii)    incorporating any individual mesh, irrespective of its position within the net, greater than 300mm.

Prohibition on carrying towed gear

4.(1) No British fishing boat shall carry pair trawling gear, other than that specified in article 3(2), in any part of the south-west territorial waters unless every part of that gear is lashed and stowed.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph 1 above, “lashed and stowed”, in relation to pair trawling gear, means—

(a)     nets, weights and similar gear not connected to trawl boards or towing and hauling wires and ropes; and

(b)     if on or above deck, securely lashed to some part of the superstructure of the fishing boat.

Powers of British sea-fishery officers

5.(1) For the purposes of enforcing this Order a British sea fishery officer may exercise the powers conferred by this article in relation to— 

(a)     any relevant British fishing boat wherever it may be; and

(b)     any other British fishing boat which is within relevant British fishery limits.

(2) He may go on board the boat, with or without persons assigned to assist him in his duties, and for that purpose may require the boat to stop and do anything else which will facilitate the boarding of the boat.

(3) He may require the attendance of the master and other persons on board the boat and may make any examination and inquiry which appears to him to be necessary for the purpose of enforcing this Order and, in particular—

(a)     may examine any fish on the boat and the equipment of the boat, including the fishing gear, and require persons on board the boat to do anything which appears to him to be necessary for facilitating the examination;

(b)     may require any person on board the boat to produce any document relating to the boat, to its fishing operations or other operations ancillary thereto or to the persons on board which is in his custody or possession and may take copies of any such document;

(c)     for the purpose of ascertaining whether the master, owner or charterer of the boat has committed an offence under the Sea Fish (Conservation)Act as read with this Order, may search the boat for any such document and may require any person on board the boat to do anything which appears to him to be necessary for facilitating the search; and

(d)     where the boat is one in relation to which he has reason to suspect that such an offence has been committed, may seize and detain any such document produced to him or found on board for the purpose of enabling the document to be used as evidence in proceedings for the offence;

but nothing in sub-paragraph (d) shall permit any document required by law to be carried on board the boat to be seized and detained except while the boat is detained in a port.

(4) Where it appears to a British sea-fishery officer that a contravention of any provision of this Order has at any time taken place, he may—

(a)     require the master of the boat in relation to which the contravention took place to take, or himself take, the boat and its crew to the port which appears to him to be the nearest convenient port; and

(b)     detain or require the master to detain the boat in the port;

and where such an officer detains or requires the detention of a boat he shall serve on the master a notice in writing stating that the boat will be or is required to be detained until the notice is withdrawn by the service on the master of a further notice in writing signed by a British sea-fishery officer.                                                                        

Ben Bradshaw

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

22nd December 2004            Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Ian Pearson

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

22nd December 2004            Northern Ireland Office


(This note is not part of the Order)

This Order applies to British fishing boats.

This Order prohibits fishing using specified pair trawls in the south-west territorial waters of England (article 3). Pair trawling is a method of fishing by two or more vessels, carried out by a net or a combination of nets (article 2(1)). The carriage of pair trawling nets within the south-west territorial sea is prohibited unless all parts of the relevant gear are lashed and stowed (article 4).

The Order  comes into force on 24th December 2004.

If any boat contravenes any prohibition under this Order, the master, owner and charterer is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine (section 11(1)(a) and (b) of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967). The court may also order forfeiture of fish, nets or other fishing gear (section 11(2)-(3) of the 1967 Act).

The Order confers powers of enforcement on British sea fishery officers for the purposes of enforcing this Order. These powers may be exercised in relation to any British fishing boat within relevant British fishery limits, and in relation to a relevant British fishing boat wherever it may be  (article 5).

Ed: Thank you Ben Bradshaw MP and all who supported the introduction of this vital legislation.

It's the best Christmas present I've received this year.

It's a great shame that it doesn't extend to the waters surrounding the Channel Isles.

Now let's see it rigidly enforced for the sake of our Dolphins & stocks of Bass.

Perhaps the European Parliament may also have the common sense to extend the ban to all European waters in the very near future.

Sunday 19th December - Email received via Leon Roskilly of the Sea Anglers' Conservation Network:



11:00 - 18 December 2004

TWO dolphins, believed to be victims of controversial bass pair fishing trawlers, have been washed up on Westcountry beaches, with puncture marks thought to have been made after they died.

The Dolphins, which were found earlier this week, are believed to be the first in two years to have been found with puncture marks.

Experts said the marks were probably caused after the Dolphins died, to either make them sink or decompose quicker.

Lindy Hingley, from Brixham Seawatch, said the latest cases where the Dolphins were punctured was "outrageous".

Every year, hundreds of dead cetaceans are washed up on shores around Devon and Cornwall. Campaigners fear they have been caught in the huge nets trawled between two vessels in a method of fishing mostly used by French and Scottish boats, known as bass pair trawling.

The fisheries minister, Ben Bradshaw, introduced a ban on pair trawling within the 12 mile limit by British vessels, but he failed to persuade the European Commission to introduce an EU ban on this fishing method.

Campaigners feel the UK ban will make little difference with Dolphins still being washed up on beaches in the region.

In the latest incidents, the first Dolphin, which was washed up just to the west of Dartmouth, at Strete Gate, Slapton Sands, South Devon, on Monday, was so badly composed that its sex could not be determined. But it was identified as a seven foot long common Dolphin.

"It had been punctured and it was not damaged underneath so it was very difficult to ascertain what sex it was," Ms Hingley said. "It had a broken beak which had been completely snapped off. It was not that old and it wouldn't have decomposed as quickly had it not been punctured. But it was badly decomposed."

A second Dolphin was washed up on nearby Thurlestone Sands early on Thursday.

It was identified as a seven-foot long female common Dolphin. It also had a puncture wound.

"It had a very similar mark and damage and they could have quite easily both been caught at the same time," she said.

"Whoever has punctured them is doing it with a very sharp implement and doing it through the chest cavity in exactly the same position each time.

"I think that they believe that think that they sink if they are punctured and obviously we won't find them.

"But I think they also do it to make them rot more quickly so they can't go through a post-mortem as easily because it is difficult to deal with Dolphins that are quite badly decomposed."

She said these Dolphins were the first with puncture wounds that she had seen for several years. At one time dolphins were washed up with puncture wounds quite frequently and in some cases they were actually cut into pieces, but these were the first of the new bass fishing season that had been punctured.

"I'm very dismayed about this. We're trying so hard to get our own government to really make this a priority at European level, and I feel so saddened that we are still dealing with these beautiful creatures dying in these ways and washing up on our beaches.

"But to find them punctured in this way. They are very big animals and you have got to go through a great deal of fat and skin to get into a dolphin.

"It's appalling to find them in this way when they have obviously been damaged, presumably after death. It's outrageous and horrendous to mutilate their bodies ion this way.

"I would hope that those fishermen feel sorry about this and want to help us.

"But I suspect by the fact that they are punctured in this way, that they just don't care and have no conscience."

Yesterday a senior DEFRA advisor indicated that the Government would press for some restrictions on the winter Bass fishery at next week's EU Fisheries Council meeting.

Lindsay Harris, deputy head of fisheries, said the Government would try to persuade the Commission to limit the number of trawlers taking part. But the issue of Dolphin deaths will not be on the agenda directly and any changes were likely to be relatively minor

Friday 17th December - sorry it's not easy to read the small print, but please make the effort.  This indicates clearly the scale of the problem.

Sunday 12th December - SCOTTISH PAIR TRAWLERS FIGHT BAN & FRENCH TRAWLER ARRESTED Email received today from Leon Roskilly of Sea Anglers' Conservation Network:

"The two Scottish boats have landed a total of 14 tons of Bass (Some good size fish in double figures sad to say) and have been fishing 6 miles off Start Point.

They have also landed 3 Thresher Sharks and a large number of dead Dolphins have been found in the same area by local fishermen.

The boats belong to the Tates, who are going for a judicial challenge on discriminatory grounds regarding the pair trawling ban within the 12 mile limit. This could drag on for a long time.

The inshore netsmen have landed as much as the Scots but the last week has seen no fish caught outside the 6 mile limit, long may it last.

A French trawler has been caught fishing inside the 6 mile limit and arrested.  It was escorted into Plymouth and the total catch of 17 tons of undersize fish have been measured, together with false accounting etc. This arrest was made by the Navy!"

Saturday 11th December OUR POLITICAL LEADERS ARE CLEARLY FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNS  I received an Email from Leon Roskilly of the Sea Anglers’ Conservation Network:

Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw was accused of complacency last night after he claimed there was "no evidence" that fishing techniques blamed for killing dolphins had restarted in the Westcountry's inshore waters.

Earlier this year Mr Bradshaw banned the practice of pair trawling for bass within the UK's 12 mile coastal waters because of evidence that the technique, in which two powerful trawlers tow a giant net between them, was responsible for "unacceptable" numbers of dolphin deaths.  But a series of anecdotal reports suggest that the ban is being flouted. Two sea anglers recently reported seeing pair trawling for bass taking place just two miles off Start Point, Devon. A crab fishermen reported finding large numbers of dead dolphins in the area shortly afterwards. And local fishermen have also reported activity by bass pair trawlers.

The sightings have raised fears that little is being done to enforce the ban.  But Mr Bradshaw told MPs that the ban was being observed, adding that he had asked for co-operation on the issue from France, which dominates the fishery.  "I have seen no evidence of pair trawling (for bass) recommencing within our 12-mile limit," he said.  "I spoke to the French fisheries minister at the last Fisheries Council meeting and handed him a letter requesting French co-operation in stopping it."

Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for South West Devon, who has raised a series of questions about the issue with Mr Bradshaw, said he was surprised and disappointed by the minister's response.  He said: "I am disappointed by what appears to be a very complacent answer.  "There is a good deal of evidence that this is going on - I have provided the minister with dates and locations - and I think we need to have a much more rigorous investigation if we are to have confidence that this is being taken seriously."

A UK request for total closure of the winter bass fishery was rejected by the European Commission earlier this year, but campaigners are still pressing for further action to tackle the fishery, which is blamed for the deaths of hundreds of dolphins washed up dead on the beaches of the West Country and northern France each winter.

Mr Bradshaw said he had already raised the issue of dolphin deaths with the new European Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg. And he said the issue "may well come up" at the annual meeting of European Fisheries Ministers later this month when the issue of setting quotas for the bass stock is expected to come up.

But Mr Bradshaw would not be drawn on whether the issue would be a priority for the UK during the negotiations. He said: "Ministers do have to decide quite carefully where they prioritise their talking time, so it may not be the best time to raise the issue."  But he said the UK would "keep the pressure up to tackle what I recognise is a very serious issue".

Lindy Hingley, founder of the conservation group Brixham Seawatch, said it was "disappointing" that Mr Bradshaw was not making the issue a top priority. She said: "I know there are many important issues in the fishing industry, but this is important too. We really are facing huge numbers of dolphins dying the most agonising deaths."

On the 6th December, an informed article appeared in the Times Newspaper regarding the growing recognition of UK recreational sea angling.  Space and copyright prevents its inclusion here.  You can read it in full on the internet via  I suggest you visit this web site and bookmark it so you can visit it again for the latest updates whenever you wish in the future.

On the same day, an article in the Daily Telegraph referred to Prince Charles’ condemnation of the Bass Pair Trawl Fishery.  You can also read that report in full on the internet via

Ed: You will have heard via the National media only during this past week the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution - Impact of Fisheries recommendation that 30% of the UK's fishing grounds should immediately be closed to fishing as they are already apparently denuded of fish.  Read that report in full on the Internet via

Sport anglers have known that is true for several past seasons, and still our Chancellor, Gordon Brown MP proposes to raise revenue by charging us 22 for a salt water rod licence!  I wouldn't object to that if we received some tangible improvement in return.

It's about time we stamped our feet a little harder and threw a public tantrum.  How else are we going to make anyone listen?  I doubt you will even receive an acknowledgement of receipt for any letter you write to Ben Bradshaw MP our present "lacklustre" Fisheries Minister - I know I haven't!

This present dithering leaves one the lasting impression that Ben Bradshaw MP is non-committal and fundamentally disinterested in UK sea angling and fisheries issues which affect our collective future.  His predecessor Elliott Morley MP, who is now Environmental Minister for the UK Government, is apparently from a similar mould.  Are we witnessing MP’s career advancements directly related to their own inability to implement remedies on behalf of their electorate?  So what’s new?

Sunday 5th December - THE NEWS GETS FAR WORSE - I received  Emails this morning from two different and very credible sources.  There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of this information.

Here's the first message:

"Thought you all should be aware of the rumour that the pair trawlers working in the Channel scooped up over a hundred Dolphins in one haul last week.

The email I received this morning from one of my sources at Looe serves to confirm that something very nasty is happening to these wonderful creatures and to the shoals of breeding Bass.

It would seem to me that the trawlermen are throwing caution to the wind in order to make their money this season in the face of a potential ban.

Ben Bradshaw M.P. our UK Fisheries Minister started by saying that there would be a total ban on pair trawling within the 12 mile limit, which is what would be best for all concerned, including the Dolphins and the Bass breeding season.

But now DEFRA in its infinite wisdom is talking about a licensing schemeI cannot help but wonder how many DEFRA Employees are sponsored by the Commercial Fishing Industry?"

(Ed: DEFRA's brief is heavily biased towards the benefit of the commercial sector - it used to be called the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries - DEFRA has little or no interest in sport angling - Oh how short is the memory!)

Here's the second one from a different informant:

"Happy Xmas............... Thought you would like to know this ........... last week ONE OF OUR TRAWLERS HAULED UP IN A SINGLE DAY 58 ALREADY DEAD DOLPHINS WITH THEIR STOMACHS SPLIT TO MAKE THEM SINK ............... this is of course a result of Bass pair teams in the Channel............. if just one of our boats hauls this up how many are being killed out there????

I trust you will pass this info to the correct body of people.  Have a good one!"

We must all keep writing to Ben Bradshaw MP to register our disgust and maintain the pressure.

Don't order trawl caught Bass to eat from a retailer or restaurant.  Only consider it if you can clearly establish it was caught on rod and line.  Vote with your feet and your wallet!

This is the sort of conduct we repeatedly see from some sectors of our own fishing industry.  Only yesterday I spotted a pair of huge trawlers operating in mid-Channel.

Ben Bradshaw MP

Fisheries Minister
The House of Commons

Friday 26th November - BAD NEWS - IT'S STILL NOT LAW - I received a telephone call from an entirely unexpected source, a local commercial fishing boat operator.

He told me that two Scottish Pair Trawlers, one of which is named "Ocean Crest" have been sighted during the past week pair trawling for Bass between the 6 and 12 mile limits off our local coast line.

They are believed to have landed between 6 to 8 tons of Trawl Caught Bass onto the market this week.

The wholesale market price of rod and line commercially caught Bass has currently been reported to have been depressed to as little as 3 per Kilo.  Net caught Bass is worth even less.

We all believed that the UK Government had already imposed a total ban on Pair Trawling within our own coastal 12 mile limit.  Alas, this is not yet the case.  They are still in the process of doing so.

Government Law makers are still in the long drawn out process of putting the relevant legislation onto the Statute book.

It is said that the ban should come on-stream and take effect before the end of December 2004.  I suggest you don't hold your breath.

If the powers that be had heeded our calls far earlier than they eventually did, this would have been enacted long before now.

It's yet another clear example of greedy Scottish pair trawler operators flouting the spirit of the wishes of the majority and acting contrary to the interests of UK sea anglers.

I have subsequently received a second report of pair trawling approximately 3 miles off shore in Bigbury Bay, just to the west of Salcombe.  This was observed by two reliable pleasure angling pals from their own boat on Sunday 21st November 2004.

It seems likely that the Dolphins that were washed up dead on Thurlstone Beach, right next to Bigbury Bay, just three days later, could have been killed by that pair of trawlers.

Scottish trawlers come down to our waters, make their quarter million, kill a lot of Dolphins and breeding Bass and bugger off back to Scotland with the attitude that when they are gone, they are gone, do we care!  It appals me and further fuels my personal resentment.

I suggest you may wish to write to the UK Fisheries Minister, Ben Bradshaw MP, and to your local Member of Parliament yet again, to register your own concerns and disgust.  I know that I shall most certainly do so.

Ben Bradshaw MP

Fisheries Minister
The House of Commons
Monday 28th September - Announcement on TV News that Ben Bradshaw MP is going to ban pair trawling for Bass within a 12 mile limit from the UK coastline.  This is for the purpose of protecting Dolphins.  It is anticipated that this will become effective prior to the forthcoming season.

Alas it's too little and too late, but far better than no action at all.  The EEC have been no help whatsoever on this issue.  The EEC attitude has once again proven derisory in failing to protect UK fish stocks.

Would the UK Government have taken this historic conservation measure without the constant pressure applied to them by well funded bodies such as Greenpeace?  Somehow I very much doubt it.

The National Federation of Sea Anglers have been of less help on this particular matter than the EEC.  You will recall from my earlier correspondence with their Chairman, Ted Tuckerman, that they declined to involve themselves in the pair trawling saga.  Is it any wonder that currently membership is negligible amongst UK sea anglers.  I expect the NFSA will be quick to try to claim the credit for the action of others yet again!  Don't believe it if they do!

Wednesday 1st September - Report on TV News that EEC had declined request from Bed Bradshaw MP - UK Fisheries Minister, to outlaw pair trawling throughout the EEC.  Reason stated, that there is insufficient evidence to link it as the prime cause of Dolphin Deaths.

Will the UK Government have the strength of will to outlaw it within the 12 mile limit around the UK coastline?  Time will tell.

Yes I realise that it would still be legal outside 12 mile limit, but surely something is better than nothing?

Please let me know what your views are on this latest development.


I had to tell you this good news report which broke yesterday, Thursday 22nd July 2004.

It's such a pity that the National Federation of Sea Anglers did not ally themselves with organisations such as Lindy Hinglery's Brixham Sea Watch and Greenpeace over this most important issue.

Regular visitors to this site will know that I wrote to Ted Tuckerman, Chairman of the NFSA in detail regarding this very problem and he refused, allegedly with the support of the National Committee of the NFSA to take the matter up on behalf of UK sea anglers.

Government commits to banning dolphin-killing pair trawl fishery

Historic move welcomed by Greenpeace

The government today committed to banning the UK pair trawling fishery which is responsible for hundreds of dolphin deaths every year in a move welcomed and congratulated by Greenpeace.

The decision follows a campaign by Greenpeace which involved the launch of a legal challenge and the delivery of a dead dolphin encased in ice left on the Government's doorstep recently.

The Government will seek emergency European legislation to ban the UK sea bass pair trawling fishery, which involves two boats dragging a net which can have a mouth the size of two football pitches. If the case for emergency action through the European Commission is not successful, then the Government will seek a ban on pair trawling for UK boats and in UK waters.

Sarah Duthie, Greenpeace oceans campaigner said: "This historic move by the Government must be welcomed and congratulated. It will save the lives of hundreds of dolphins every year.

"It will certainly be hard work getting this emergency action through the European Commission but the Government has committed itself to banning pair trawling in UK waters if this is not successful.

"This announcement was rather timely, given that Ben Bradshaw, the Fisheries Minister, only had one more day left to reply to our legal challenge demanding that this fishery be closed.

"An estimated 10,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in fishing nets around the UK. The Government has taken the first step and it's now time for other countries to follow this example. The UK Government must now address other critical bycatch problems such as the damage caused to the harbour porpoise population by the set net fleet."

Further information
For more information, please contact the Greenpeace press office on 020 7865 8255

ED: Greenpeace have the funding and resources to wield a big stick to Governments over such issues.

Do not under estimate the influence that groups such as Lindy Hingley's Brixham Sea Watch have had on this matter.  Lindy has campaigned on Dolphin deaths for the past 12 years.  I spoke to her today and she thanks all sea anglers who have been active on this issue.

Now we must keep the pressure on the Fisheries Minister to not drag his feet in getting the necessary legislation enabled and effectively policed.

Read my original sad tale below ...........

You will have heard on TV and Radio across the media of the problems attributed to Pair Trawling for stocks of Bass in the Channel off our shores.

It has been alleged that these pairs of Trawlers which tow between them a huge net, up to a mile in length, scoop up much of the stocks of Bass, together with numerous Dolphins.

The Dolphin deaths have captured the attention of the public.  Every angler condemns the unnecessary death of every single Dolphin.  We all abhor this needless slaughter which is taking place as I speak, under our very noses.

We have all given up fishing for Bass from small boats in the Bass nursery areas which were set up in our estuaries and harbours, to provide a safe breeding ground where immature Bass might grow to maturity.

And for what?  So that greedy commercial interests may further decimate the fragile Bass stocks.  They do not care that they allegedly kill and maim Dolphins in the normal course of their business.  The rich market for Sea Bass is theirs for the taking.

The NFSA has been noticeable by its absence from the media comment.

Brixham Sea Watch has monitored Dolphin deaths.

Greenpeace has used its huge boat to shadow the pair trawlers.

Fisheries Protection have used their cutter and aircraft to monitor pair trawlers, though under current legislation, they have limited powers to act to reduce this slaughter.

Candy Atherton MP has reported that the Committee of which she is the Chair, recommends that pair trawling should cease in 2 years time, if Dolphin deaths can be attributed to this cause.

The Lib. Deb. MP for Torbay raised the subject of "Stopping Pair Trawling for Bass NOW" in the House of Commons on the 31st March 2004.

On Saturday 29th March, Tim Bird and Dean Corbett were out leisure angling from their private boat off Dartmouth.

They later told me that at one stage they saw a total of 12 - yes you read that correctly 12 pair trawlers in mid-Channel on the same day.

That's 6 nets, each about a mile long, scooping up all the Bass (and Dolphins too).

The Fisheries patrol boat was in the area and their spotter plane flew overhead.  Under current legislation they can do little to protect the breeding stocks of Bass.

The Parliamentarians will perhaps eventually outlaw "Pair Trawling" after there are no Bass and Dolphins left to protect.  We need decisive action NOW !!!

Only yesterday, I was speaking to a Brixham trawler man who told me that during the past 7 days, two pairs of French Pair Trawlers had landed 18 tons of Bass, caught 28 miles off Start Point, on to the French market.

A good sport angling pal of mine, Emailed me just today, to tell you that:

On Friday 26th March 21.8 tons of bass was landed by 5 pair teams who have joined the fishery. They were working 30 miles due south of Start Point on the 50% latitude line which they have proven track record over several yearsThese vessels have been given the choice to sign up for either 5 ton @ week or 15ton @ month.

(ED: You do not need to be a mathematical genius, to work out that 21.8 metric tons of Bass is equivalent to 21,800 individual fish where each fish has an average weight of 1 Kilo (approx. 2 lbs) landed in a single day.

If you increase the estimated average weight of every individual Bass caught to a generous 1.5 Kilos (approx. 3 lbs 6 ozs) then that figure of 21.8 metric tons still equates to a massive 14,530 spawning Bass landed in a single day.

If every leisure sea angler in the South West landed a single Bass on the same day, the figures would not even start to approach those achieved by the commercial pair trawler operators.  And remember, those stated figures relate to a single Port on a single day!)

The main effort continues to the west between the 6 -12 mile as it has all winter this year as well as last year11 French pair teams were sighted fishing during the week in this area besides the Scots.

I carried out a full inspection of 3.2 tons of fish which was on the (Plymouth) market yesterday morning on arrival with Graham Pickett.

We carried out a biological sampling of this landing taking length & scale samplesThese fish were in poor condition divide of scales having been in the cod end of the trawl for a long time. Mostly were spent fish but a few were still running with eggs. The average size was 45 cms.

During the morning a pair of Scottish boats belonging to the Tates; Ocean Star & Ocean Crest, landed 2.3 tons which we carried out a bio sampling of the sameThey were found to be in prime condition.

This pair have been working up to the 6 mile limit through out the winter since October.

The average size distribution  was 45 cms. however they had one individual fish of 91cms which 8.26 kilos or 18lbs 2ozs . Scale samples were taken.

This pair had a mammals observer on board and the nets had escape grids and camera facilities to see what was taken place within the net itself.  The Dolphins & Porpoises appear to have moved off now compared to December, January and early February which is the usual pattern.

The general feeling is the fishery will continue for another two weeks until Easter, when boats will return to Scotland.

Regarding the Bass Management proposals nothing has changed, as the main effort continues up to the 6 mile limit for last winter as well as this winter.

I requested the CBE to monitor any landings made into  either Cherbourg or Roscoff and they have sent back full registration details of each new Scottish vessel who joined the fishery last weekThe Port of Brest is monitored by IFREMER but the others are not.

I hope that dispels some of your fears.  The shoals (or what is left of them) are starting to break up, making it harder for pair teams to bulk fish - thank heavens.

ED: That's the reality of the current situation.

A good friend has today written to Ben Bradshaw MP, Fisheries Minister, regarding the whole question of Pair Trawling.

We suggest you make an effort and do the same to make your voice heard.


What we need now is for a huge sack full of letters highlighting this particular problem to arrive through Ben Bradshaw's mail box - maybe then he might take notice and initiate action.

Here is the text of my own letter which provides a good starting point for yours:

Sunday, 11th April 2004

For the personal attention of:
Ben Bradshaw MP
Fisheries Minister
The House of Commons
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,     
UK Inshore Bass Fishery - Increased  UK Pair Trawlers Bass fishing effort

On Saturday 29th March, my good friends Tim Bird and Dean Corbett were leisure angling from their private boat off Dartmouth.

They later told me that at one stage they saw a total of 12 - yes you read that correctly - 12 pair trawlers in mid-Channel on the same day.

That's 6 nets, each about a mile long, scooping up all the Bass and Dolphins too.

The Fisheries patrol boat was in the area and their spotter plane flew overhead.  Under current legislation they can do little to protect the breeding stocks of Bass.

The D.E.F.R.A. Fisheries Inspectorate in Plymouth has confirmed that as recently as Friday 26th March, 15 vessels made landings of spawning sea bass in the Port.

They also confirmed that 14 Scottish vessels were currently pair trawling the Sea Bass spawning shoals just off our local coastline in the English Channel.

For example, on Friday 26th March 21.8 tons of Bass was landed by 5 pair teams who have joined the fishery. They were working 30 miles due south of Start Point on the 50% latitude line where they have a proven track record over several years.

You do not need to be a mathematical genius, to work out that 21.8 metric tons of Bass is equivalent to 21,800 individual fish where each fish has an average weight of 1 Kilo (approx. 2 lbs), all landed in a single day.

If you increase the estimated average weight of every individual Bass caught to a generous 1.5 Kilos (approx. 3 lbs 6 ozs) then that figure of 21.8 metric tons still equates to a massive 14,530 spawning Bass all landed in a single day.

If every leisure sea angler in the South West was sufficiently skilled and lucky enough to catch a single Bass on the same day, the figures would not even start to approach those achieved by the commercial pair trawler operators.

This represents at least a trebling of the UK fishing effort since the ICES recommendation of a cap on effort in 2002.

Please take immediate action to close this over exploited commercial fishery on conservation grounds.

How many Dolphins are being killed as they are inextricably mixed with the spawning Bass?

On Sunday 4th April, my Wife was walking our family dog along Slapton Beach, to the west of Dartmouth, when she found the rotting remains of a large bottle nosed Dolphin lying in the surf line.

Only yesterday, the carcass of another Porpoise was washed ashore near the Ferry Slip just inside the River Dart.
What is the point of the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit's recent recommendation; (Fisheries Report-Net Benefits: A sustainable & profitable future, March 2004 - section 9.6.3), that "Fisheries Departments should consider designating the Sea Bass stock for recreational use".
How can this prospective designation be expected to benefit the U.K. Coastal Community, and the 2,000,000 leisure sea anglers who generate 1.4 Billion pounds to that economy?
We see a rapidly expanding fleet of pair trawlers which is allowed to destroy the economic potential of recreational sea angling before the Downing Street proposals even get off the drawing board.
Is the slothful dragging of your feet in regard to this matter purely for the sake of political expediency?
How much longer does the leisure angling industry have to endure this appalling political hypocrisy and inexcusable inertia?
Is it because so many of the commercial boats are Scottish and jobs within the industry take precedence over all else?
The majority of sea anglers to whom I have spoken share the view that by the time you do take already long overdue action to curtail this slaughter; there will be few Dolphins or Bass remaining in the English Channel.
Please remember that Leisure Sea Anglers are also voters.
We look forward to seeing you take decisive remedial action over this disgraceful situation in the very near future.

Yours sincerely

Mike Concannon

Can we leave this to the NFSA to take action on?

We think not…...

Are they even aware?

Judging by their recent public low profile on this matter - We doubt it!

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