§ Ms Atherton
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions her Department has held with representatives of angling groups and charter skippers since January 2001 to consider further conservation measures to protect bass stocks in UK waters; what the latest estimate is of bass stocks in UK waters; and what further discussions her Department has had with the European Commission to consider conservation measures at Community level. 
§ Mr. Morley
Since January 2001, officials have met representatives of sea angling associations and charter boat owners on an annual basis to consider a number of issues of interest to them, including the conservation of bass stocks. In addition to formal annual meetings, anglers are always consulted on fisheries management when their interests are likely to be affected.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas' Advisory Committee for Fisheries Management reported last year to the European Commission on the status of sea bass in European waters. The report concluded that the fishing mortality was sustainable but that, given uncertainties in the assessment and the possible influences of an unfavourable change in environmental conditions on recruitment, fishing effort should not be allowed to increase. The Commission has yet to come forward with any proposals in response to this report which might aid the sustainability of bass stocks.