Hundreds of bass fishermen who have had to appeal to the MMO to gain authorisation to fish for bass in 2017 have been told they will have to wait until 21 April to know whether or not they can fish, reports Tim Oliver.

A number of worried fishermen have contacted Fishing News to voice concerns at the long delays in processing their claims and the loss of earnings that they will suffer by not being authorised to fish when the fishery opens on 1 April.

The MMO said it had received about 600 bass representations since the representation process was published on its website, and it was looking at these ‘in strict order of receipt’.

An MMO spokesman told Fishing News: “Because of the high volume of representations received, we took the decision to respond to representations in two batches.

“The first batch of representations is those received by the MMO before 8 March, 2016 (around 180 in total) and the majority of these will receive decisions by 31 March, 2017. The second batch is representations received after 8 March, 2017 (around 420 in total), and for the majority of these cases a decision will be issued by 21 April, 2017.

“The MMO knows that it is crucial for our customers to receive a bass representation decision at the earliest opportunity, and we are working extremely hard to make this happen. To ensure that the right decision is arrived at for a representation, we must consider all of the information provided to us.

“We would like to thank our customers who have been diligent in providing us with a wide variety of evidence which we require to consider their representations.”

The spokesman emphasised that 21 April, 2017, is the latest date by which the majority of representation decisions will be issued, unless there are exceptional cases where more evidence may be required.

One problem appears to be that while the MMO has records of the amounts of bass landings in the track-record period through buyers’ and sellers’ documentation, it does not have records of methods of fishing for under-10s because they do not have to fill in logbooks. Licences only state which fishing methods a boat is licensed to use, but there are apparently no fully-documented records of the method(s) actually used, which are required to implement the new regulations.

Fishing News asked for clarification/confirmation of this situation but the MMO did not respond.

The NFFO said it was pressing for an early review of the bass management measures. Chief executive Barrie Deas said: “The hurried way these additional bass measures have been introduced has caused a lot of anxiety and confusion. It is imperative that this is sorted out swiftly and the same mistakes are not made again. Rushed legislation, made in a panic, always generates these kinds of problems. We are pressing for an early review of the bass management measures in place.”

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