On the eve of the General Election the Angling Trust has acknowledged the 'sterling work' of seven MPs from the Conservative, Labour and LibDem parties in pressing for measures to save threatened bass stocks. The MPs have all been raising the bass issue in debates in the House of Commons, by tabling parliamentary questions and in direct representations to ministers.
The seven British Parliamentary Bass Champions are:-
- George Hollingbery - Con
- Richard Benyon - Con
- Simon Hart- Con
- Charles Walker - Con
- Jon Cruddas - Lab
- Ben Bradshaw - Lab
- Annette Brooke - LibDem
All have been sent a special certificate, decorated with the stunning picture of 'Bass on the Fly' by renowned angling artist David Miller.
The group includes former fisheries ministers Richard Benyon (Con) and Ben Bradshaw (Lab), both of whom have called for bass to be given priority as a recreational species; the chair and vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Angling, George Hollingbery and Charles Walker, who have organised Commons debates to press for bass conservation measures with strong support from Simon Hart for the Conservatives and Labour's policy chief Jon Cruddas. The LibDem MP Annette Brooke has been a persistent letter writer on the issue as have a number of others.
Commenting on the awards Angling Trust Campaigns Chief Martin Salter said: 'Without the strong political support from MPs of all parties we would not have got the UK government to propose the EU winter travel ban on bass spawning aggregations nor would we now be on the verge of winning an increase in bass minimum landing sizes which has been a demand of anglers for the last 15 years. Other MPs have been helpful but these seven have been outstanding in their persistence and it is only right that as anglers we acknowledge these sterling efforts on our behalf.'
Former Fisheries Minister and Newbury MP Richard Benyon said: 'I am really delighted to get this award and while I am proud of my record on protecting bass in and out of Government, this is still a stock in crisis. In the new Parliament our band of cross-party bass conservationists will need to be busier than ever.'
Angling Trust Marine Campaigns Manager David Mitchell added: 'There is still a long way to go if we are to see anything like the 80% reduction in bass mortality recommended by scientists as necessary for the recovery of bass stocks. We are pushing hard for restrictions on commercial catches across UK waters and we will need all the support we can get in the next Parliament to achieve a better future for Britain's most popular marine sportfish.'
The Angling Trust is highlighting the plight of British bass stocks as a general election issue by encouraging anglers to write directly to their local candidates to seek their support for a package of conservation measures to ensure that stocks recover. The Trust has also produced a special briefing for all candidates and MPs available HERE.