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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bass-fishing-guidance/bass-fishing-guidance
1. Where commercial bass fishing is permanently closed
You must not catch, retain (keep), trans-ship (transfer fish from one vessel to another while at sea) or land bass from the following areas:
|Sea area||International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) division|
|South West Approaches||ICES VIIb, VIIc, VIIj and VIIk|
|Irish or Celtic Sea||Outside the 12 nautical mile limit of ICES VIIg and VIIa|
It is also prohibited to fish commercially from the shore in all areas.
2. Where commercial bass fishing is allowed (subject to restrictions)
From 1 January 2017 you may only use certain fishing methods to fish for or retain bass as a by-catch when operating in the areas below:
|Sea area||International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) division|
|North Sea||IVb, IVc|
|Celtic Sea||VIIf, VIIg* inside 12nm limit only|
|Irish Sea||VIIa* inside 12nm limit only|
|South West Approaches||VIIh|
2.1 Permitted fishing methods
Subject to having a track record in the fishery, you are only permitted to catch and retain bass with the following gears:
- fixed gillnets
- hooks and lines
- demersal trawls and seines
Fixed gillnets includes the gears in the table below:
|GNS||Gillnets anchored (set)|
|FPN||Stationary uncovered pound nets|
|FIX||Traps (not specified)|
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.
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.
Hooks and lines
|LHP||Handlines and pole lines (hand operated)|
|LHM||Handlines and pole lines (mechanised)|
|LL||Longlines not specified|
|LX||Hooks and lines (not specified)|
Demersal trawls and seines
|OTB||Bottom otter trawl|
|OTT||Otter twin trawls|
|PTB||Bottom pair trawl|
|SSC||Scottish seine (fly dragging)|
|SDN||Danish anchor seine|
|SPR||Scottish pair seine (fly dragging)|
|SV||Boat or vessel seine|
|SX||Seine nets (not specified)|
|TB||Bottom trawls (not specified)|
2.2 Prohibited fishing methods
You are not allowed to catch and retain bass with any other gears, including drift nets.
‘Drift net’ means any gillnet held on the sea surface or at a certain distance below it by floating devices, drifting with the current, either independently or with the boat to which it may be attached. It may be equipped with devices aiming to stabilise the net or to limit its drift.
Commercial fisheries from the shore are also prohibited.
3. Track records and authorisations
Your vessel will have a track record if there is a record of bass landings during the period 1 July 2015 to 30 September 2016.
You will be issued an authorisation by your fisheries administration notifying you of the gear(s) you are allowed to use.
If you do not have an authorisation to fish for bass then you are not allowed to catch, retain, trans-ship or land bass. You must return any bass to the sea immediately.
3.1 Fixed gillnets
Only vessels with a record of catching bass with fixed gillnets during the track record period are permitted to retain bass as a bycatch when fishing with fixed gillnets.
You may retain up to 250kg of bass per month as an unavoidable bycatch when targeting other species.
3.2 Hooks and lines
Only vessels with a record of catching bass with hooks and lines during the track record period are permitted to retain bass when fishing with hooks and lines.
You may retain up to 10 tonnes of bass during the period 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017, but it is prohibited to catch and retain bass with hooks and lines in February and March.
3.3 Demersal trawls and seines
Only vessels that have recorded catches of bass during the track record period may retain bass when fishing with demersal trawls and seines.
You may retain bass up to 3% of the total weight of marine organisms retained on board per day as an unavoidable bycatch up to a maximum of 400kg per month.
3.4 Fishing gear
If you retain bass you may only carry and use one type of authorised fishing gear. You must not retain bass if you have any unauthorised gear on board.
4. Summary of commercial catch limits
For vessels with authorisations
|Fixed Nets||Demersal Trawls and Seines||Hooks and Lines|
|Fishery Restrictions||Unavoidable by-catch fishery only||Unavoidable by-catch fishery only. Maximum 3% by weight of all marine organisms per day.||Closed February and March|
|Maximum catch limit||250kg per month||400kg per month||10 tonnes per year|
All bass catches prohibited.
|All other gears (including drift nets) and vessels without authorisations||Commercial shore fisheries|
|All bass catches prohibited||All bass catches prohibited|
5. Bass and the landing obligation
The landing obligation applies to commercial fisheries.
Bass is subject to catch limits and therefore the landing obligation (“discards ban”) applies.
5.1 Pelagic landing obligation
You must discard all bass caught when using pelagic gears as fishing for bass is prohibited.
5.2 Demersal Landing Obligation
The demersal landing obligation is being gradually phased in but does not currently apply to bass in 2017. It will apply to bass in all fisheries no later than 2019. This means that you must discard all bass unless you are fishing using fixed nets, demersal trawls and seines or hooks and lines in accordance with your authorisation.
If you are fishing using a gear specified in your authorisation you may not retain on board fish below MCRS and any fish in excess of your permitted by-catch. Once you have reached your monthly by-catch or annual catch limit then you must not retain any bass.
6. Recreational fishing for bass
If you are a recreational fisherman in the North Sea and Western waters you are subject to the limitations below:
|Sea area||ICES division||1 January - 30 June||1 July - 31 December|
|North sea||IVb, IVc||Catch and release only||1 bass per fisherman per day|
|East Channel||VIId, VIIe||Catch and release only||1 bass per fisherman per day|
|Celtic Sea||VIIf, VIIg||Catch and release only||1 bass per fisherman per day|
|Irish Sea||VIIa||Catch and release only||1 bass per fisherman per day|
|South West approaches||VIIh||Catch and release only||1 bass per fisherman per day|
|West of Ireland||VIIj, VIIk||1 bass per fisherman per day||1 bass per fisherman per day|
These catch limits apply whether you are fishing from a vessel or the shore.
7. Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS)
The MCRS for bass is 42cm.
You must not retain, tranship, land, transport, store, sell, display or offer for sale specimens below the MCRS, but must return them immediately to the sea.
The deadline to submit representations has now passed. If you have a query regarding your bass authorisation or eligibility please contact the Fisheries Management Team firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Further information
Council Regulation (EU) 2017/127 fixing for 2017 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, for Union fishing vessels, in certain non-Union waters.
Council Regulation (EC) 850/98 for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms
Council Regulation (EC) 894/97 laying down certain technical measures for the conservation of fishery resources.
Guidance on the landing obligation.
Contact your local office for further information.