The encircling gill net technique has finally been recognised after three years of lobbying. Image: LIFE

Dutch inshore fishermen have seen the encircling gill net technique that had been excluded as a method for catching bass under the 2017 conservation measures now recognised and reinstated.

This traditional fishing method is used by small-scale fishermen to target mullet, although in recent years the amount of mullet has declined, made up for by an increasing sea bass presence. Fishermen set the nets around schools of mullet, located by eye, and bass have become an increasingly important by-catch.

Catch quality is exceptionally high as the fish are in the nets for a very short time, and virtually 100% of catches are over the minimum landing size. So Dutch small-scale fishermen were taken by surprise when it turned out that the government had omitted to inform the European Commission and the European Council of this fishery’s existence. In spite of track records foe 2015 and 2016, the method was excluded from being used to catch sea bass.

The fishermen’s case was taken up by the netVISwerk fishermen’s association, a partner of LIFE Platform in the Netherlands, and after three years of lobbying, the technique has been recognised and under the new GNC (Gil Net enCircling) regulation, fishermen are licensed to catch 1400kg of sea bass.