News story

Clarification on fishing restrictions for Bass in 2016

Clarification and guidance and the new measures.

When the European Union (EU) publishes the annual regulations allocating total allowable catch and quotas to member states (the T&Q regulation), a number of new restrictions for catches of sea bass will be introduced. This article seeks to answer the key questions surrounding the new measures for commercial and recreational fisherman.

UPDATE: The European Union has now published the annual T&Q regulation and the measures relating to catches of sea bass come into force at 00:01hrs on 29 January 2016.

General information

What are the new measures which are being introduced for commercial fisheries for sea bass?

An in depth guide to the new measures can be seen on the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) website:

When do the new measures take effect?

The new measures will be contained in the annual T&Q regulation which will become law when the EU publishes it in the Official Journal. A draft of the text of the regulation can be seen on the Council of Europe website.

(N.B It must be noted that the draft text is not an official regulation of the EU until it is published and may be subject to changes).

Can I catch what I want until the regulation is published?

No. Until the publication of the 2016 T&Q regulation, the 2015 regulation (Council Regulation (EU) 2015/104 remains in force and commercial fishing vessels remain subject to conditions contained in the fishing vessel licence

How will I know when the 2016 regulation has been published?

The EU has now published the annual T&Q regulation: Council regulation (EU) 2016/71. The measures come into force on 29 January 2016.

Commercial fisheries

What happens if I have fished up to the 2015 monthly limit before the 2016 regulation comes into force?

MMO will continue to enforce the 2015 limits on sea bass in January 2016 until the 2016 regulation comes into force.

When the 2016 regulation comes into force vessels which will be prohibited from fishing for bass must not catch any more sea bass.

For those vessels which remain eligible to catch bass (i.e. vessels using demersal trawls and catching no more than 1% bass by-catch and those vessels using hooks and lines and fixed gill nets in months other than February and March), the following rules apply:

  • in the event you have fished up to the monthly limit in the 2015 regulation, but exceeded the reduced limit in the 2016 regulation you must not catch any more sea bass in January or you will be in breach of the new regulations
  • any catches retained on board or landed after the coming into force of the 2016 regulation will be enforced by MMO against those limits
  • if you have not yet caught up to the monthly limit in the 2016 regulation by the time it comes into force then you may continue to fish for sea bass up to the reduced limits in the 2016 regulation

What is the definition of a fixed gill net?

The legal definition of a fixed gill net is contained in European legislation, specifically article 3(g) and (h) of Council Regulation (EC) 850/1998 and reads as follows:

(g) bottom set gill nets or entangling nets shall mean any fixed gear made up of a single piece of net, fixed, or capable of being fixed, by any means to the bottom of the sea;

(h) trammel nets shall mean any fixed gear made up of two or more pieces of net hung jointly in parallel on a single headline, fixed, or capable of being fixed, by any means to the bottom of the sea;

Recreational Fishing

Can I catch what I want until the 2016 regulation is published?

No; the 2015 restrictions on recreational fisheries remain in force, as follows:

In recreational fisheries in ICES divisions IVb, IVc, VIIa, VIId, VIIe, VIIf, VIIg, VIIh, VIIj and VIIk not more than three specimens of sea bass may be retained per person per day.

What happens after the 2016 regulation is published?

The new rules must be complied with from that point onwards.