Written Answers. - Fishing Quotas.

John Deasy

Question:

256 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the permissible level of catches of sea bass in estuaries and coastal areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11084/03]

Sea bass is not subject to a total allowable catch, TAC, or quota. However, at the December 2002 Fisheries Council member states, the Commission and the Council issued a statement stating that member states would limit their fishing effort on directed fisheries for sea bass in community waters of the Atlantic to the levels of recent years.

At national level, the Bass (Conservation of Stocks) Order, in place since 1990, prohibits the commercial fishing of sea bass by Irish sea fishing boats. The domestic conservation measures for sea bass are kept under review on an annual basis, in light of scientific assessments by the Central Fisheries Board and the Marine Institute of the state of seabass stocks as well as assessments of the impact of commercial fishing effort on seabass stocks by other member states.

Last year, having reviewed the scientific assessments relating to sea bass, I decided that the Bass (Restriction on Sale) Order should be renewed for a further year. The effect of this order is to prohibit the sale or offer for sale of bass (other than bass which has been imported into the State) from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003. The bass fishing conservation by-law which imposes a bag limit on anglers of two bass in any one period of 24 hours and provides for a ban on angling for bass during the spawning season was also renewed last year.

These domestic conservation measures for sea bass will continue to be kept under review by the Department over the coming months, in light of scientific stock assessments.