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Bass Regulations

Article 10 of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations 2022 detail the restrictions for catching European Seabass for both Commercial and Recreational fisheries. 

Commercial Fishing

View the full Bass Fishing Guidance 2022 on the MMO website here - Bass Fishing Guidance 2022

Commercial catching, retaining, transhipment and landing of bass is subject to restrictions. Article 10 of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021 and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations 2022 detail the full restrictions for catching European Seabass.

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 bycatch not exceeding 760kg in any two consecutive months
  • Hooks and lines - not exceeding 5.95 tonnes per vessel per year
  • Fixed gillnets - by-catches not exceeding 1.5 tonnes per vessel per year

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

Article 10 of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021 and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 detail the full restrictions for catching European Seabass. 

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

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

- Bass may only be retained between 1st March and the end of November in each calendar year

- 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
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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