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Bass Regulations

The 2020 Bass Measures have been rolled over to 2021 for both commercial and recreational fishing. Article 10 of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123 details the restrictions for catching European Seabass which have now been carried over to 2021.

The following statement can be read on the website

"The Bass Measures 2020 as per Article 10 of  Council Regulation (EU) were carried over on 1 January 2021 and will remain in place until annual negotiations have been completed, and any implementation steps to be taken at UK level have been carried out. Current bass authorisations remain valid until further notice in line with the 2020 guidance, but are applicable within the British Fishery Limits only. You should continue to refer to the Bass Fishing Guidance 2020 until otherwise advised by the MMO ."

Commercial Fishing

Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123 prohibits the fishing for, retaining, transhipping, relocating and landing of bass in various ICES areas, including the areas VIId and VIIe which the Southern IFC District is located within.
By way of derogation to the prohibition above, fishing is possible with restrictions dependant on different gear types, and where more than one gear type is used in a single calendar month, the lowest catch limit applies.

  • There is no fishing for bass in February and March.
  • Commercial fisheries require a specific authorisation by the MMO to catch and retain bass.
  • The legislation also prohibits any commercial bass fisheries from the shore. 
Gear Type & Restriction

Demersal Trawls
Unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 520kg per two months and 5% of the weight of the total catch per fishing trip.

Seine Nets 
Unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 520kg per two months and 5% of the weight of the total catch per fishing trip.

Hooks and Lines
Amounts not exceeding 5.7 tonnes per vessel per year.

Fixed Gillnets
Unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 1.4 tonnes per vessel per year.

If you want to catch and retain bass you must have an authorisation to do so. Commercial fishermen will be authorised to catch and retain bass with certain gears. Authorisations are being issued to vessels with a track record of landing bass during the reference period of 1 July 2015 to 30 September 2016 subject to any successful transfer requests.

If you have been issued an authorisation you will be authorised to catch and retain bass with the gear types listed on your authorisation, subject to the specific limitations for each gear

Recreational Fishing

The 2020 rules for recreational bass fishing have been rolled over for 2021. Article 10 of  Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123  details the full restrictions for catching European Seabass. 

To assist recreational fishers, Southern IFCA have created a recreational bass fishing leaflet (see right). 

The Bass fishing rules for recreational fishers are as follows:

- Bass may only be retained between 1st March – 30th November 2021

- 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 cannot be used to catch or retain bass

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

Click image to download the
2021 Recreational Bass Fishing leaflet.

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

Credit: Guy Mitchell
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