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Credit: Georgie Bull

Bass Regulations

The following Statutory Instruments detail the restrictions for catching European Seabass for both Commercial and Recreational Fisheries: 

Commercial Fishing

View the full Bass Fishing Guidance for 2023 on the MMO website here - Bass Fishing Guidance 2023

Commercial catching, retaining, transhipment and landing of bass is subject to restrictions. The commercial restrictions relating to bass are as follows:

It is prohibited to retain bass in February and March.

During January and during the period from 1st April - end of December in each calendar year, commercial vessels may fish for, retain, tranship, relocate or land Bass with the following gear and within the following limits:

  • Demersal trawls and seines - maximum 5% by weight of all marine organisms PER TRIP. Unavoidable by-catch 3.8 tonnes (3800kg) per vessel per year. 
  • Hooks and lines - not exceeding 6.2 tonnes per year
  • Fixed gillnets - By-catches not exceeding 1.6 tonnes per year
  • All other gear types - bass catches prohibited

Commercial fisheries using hooks and lines or fixed gillnets require a specific authorisation by The MMO to catch and retain bass.

The legislation also prohibits any commercial bass fisheries from the shore. 

Recreational Fishing

Recreational fishers are subject to the following rules:

- Bass may only be retained between 1 January to 31 January 2023 and 1 April to 31 December 2023

- Bass may not be retained during February and March 2023

- Two Bass may be retained per person, per day within this period

- Bass retained between these dates must measure at least the Minimum Conservation Reference Size of 42cm in length

- Fixed nets and drift nets cannot be used to catch or retain bass

- These rules apply when fishing from a boat or from the shore

Please see the MMO website for the full recreational Bass Fishing rules.


Bass Nursery Areas

There are restrictions on fishing for bass in nursery areas at certain times of year, which apply to both commercial and recreational fishers. 

The Bass (Specified Areas) (Prohibition of Fishing) (Variation) Order 1999 sets out the following prohibition for fishing in Bass Nursery Areas:

"Fishing for bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), or fishing for any species of sea-fish using sand-eels (Ammodytidae) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the areas described in column 1 of the Schedule to this Order is prohibited during the period specified in relation to each area in column 2 thereof."

Within the Southern IFC District, the areas and specified periods for which the prohibition applies are as follows:

Chichester Harbour Prohibition applies between 30 April and 1 November
Langstone Harbour
Prohibition applies between 30 April and 1 November
Portsmouth Harbour
Prohibition applies between 30 April and 1 November
Southampton Water
Prohibition applies between 30 April and 1 November
Fawley Power Station
Prohibition applies all year
Poole Harbour
Prohibition applies between 30 April and 1 November
The Fleet
Prohibition applies all year

To see further details of these specified areas, please download our Bass Nursery Area resource or click the images to the right. 

Key points:
  • Be aware of the dates when the bass nursery areas are active
  • When active, you must not target bass if fishing from a vessel
  • When active and when using a vessel, you must not use sand eel as bait regardless of species targeted

Net Fishing Byelaw

The Southern IFCA Net Fishing Byelaw specifies that:

A person must not use a net within a Bass Nursery Area in the District if:
a) any bass is carried on the person or on board the vessel; and
b) the net use is taking place during a Bass Nursery Area prohibited period.

Please see Bass Nursery Areas section for details on BNA in the Southern IFCA District.



Credit: Guy Mitchell
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