[holding answer 25 February 2008]: Scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea in 2004, and subsequent advice to DEFRA from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, suggests that the bass stock is fished sustainably. With a view to providing additional protection for stocks of bass, I announced last year a review of bass nursery areas and inshore netting restrictions, for the benefit of both inshore recreational and commercial bass fishing. I am also currently consulting on a draft recreational sea angling strategy which considers a package of measures for the development of recreational sea fishing. The consultation closes on 31 March.
[holding answer 25 February 2008]: The most recent advice on bass from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea was produced in 2004. This was based on analytical assessments of UK inshore bass stocks and concluded that bass stocks appear to be fished sustainably. Updated assessments have been carried out on behalf of DEFRA by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in 2006 and 2008. These confirm the earlier assessment and indicate that levels of bass landings by the commercial fishing industry (including the inshore sector) reflect the increase in stock abundance since the mid 1990s.
Bass are fully mature at eight years and older. Although stock assessments by CEFAS indicate that adult bass are more abundant than historically, large adult bass tend to be less available inshore, where smaller younger bass are more prevalent.