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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bass-industry-guidance-2018/bass-fishing-guidance-2018
1. Recreational bass fishing
For recreational fishers, from 1 October to 31 December 2018, not more than one specimen of European seabass may be retained and landed per fisherman per day. Any additional bass caught during 2018 must be returned immediately. This applies if you are fishing from a boat or from the shore.
Please note: for recreational bass fishing this also applies to ICES area VIa and not just IVb, IVc, VIIa-k.
2. Commercial bass fishing
The catch, retention, transhipment and landing of bass during 2018 is subject to restrictions. Those restrictions relate to;
- when and where you can catch bass
- how you can fish (gear type) and whether you have an authorisation to do so
- how much can be retained
3. When and where you can catch bass
Throughout 2018 you must not catch, retain, transship or land bass caught from a vessel or the shore from the following ‘prohibited’ 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 UK waters in ICES VIIg and VIIa|
During January 2018 and from 1 April 2018 until January 2019 the catch, retention, transhipment and landing of bass in the restricted areas below, is only permitted if you have an authorisation from the MMO to do so. Fishing for bass in any restricted area is prohibited during February and March 2018.
|Sea area||International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) division|
|North Sea||IVb, IVc|
|Celtic Sea||VIIf, VIIg*|
|South West Approaches||VIIh|
( *Inside UK 12nm limit only)
4. How you can fish when operating in a restricted area
Subject to having an authorisation issued by your fisheries administration you are only permitted to catch and retain bass with the following gears:
- fixed gillnets
- hooks and lines
- demersal trawls
- demersal Seines
You are not allowed to catch and retain bass with any other gears, including nets that drift with the current or are capable of doing so.
You cannot catch, retain, tranship or land bass if you have not been issued an authorisation.
4.1 Fixed gillnets
Fixed nets are considered by the MMO as those being “fixed, or capable of being fixed, by any means to the bottom of the sea” as set out in regulation (EC) 850/1998.
Fixed nets are defined as being fixed to the bottom of the sea in a permanent position by any method such as weights, anchors or stakes and it must be set so as not to be able to drift or move with any current.
Where a net is out of the water (i.e. on a fishing vessel) it must be immediately capable of being fixed to the bottom of the sea by any method such as weights, anchors or stakes either attached to the net or capable of being attached immediately prior to the net being deployed. In the absence of adequate means of fixing the net to the bottom of the sea being present the net will not be considered to be a fixed net.
For the avoidance of doubt, anchors, weights or other items attached to the net which do not fix it to the bottom of the sea or prevent it from drifting (regardless of the state of the current), will not be considered sufficient to consider the net as a fixed net.
4.2 Use of multiple gears
A UK fishing vessel may only carry one authorised fishing gear on a fishing trip when retaining bass on board.
If you fish using more than one of the permitted gears in a single calendar month the lowest of the catch limits for the gears will apply.
5. How much can be retained
You can only retain and land bass subject to the limits below. Catch limits are not transferable between vessels.
5.1 For vessels with authorisations
|Demersal Trawls||Demersal Seines||Hooks and Lines||Fixed Gillnets Nets||All other gears (including drift nets)||Commercial shore fisheries|
|Fishery Restrictions||Closed February and March||Closed February and March||Closed February and March||Closed February and March||All bass catches prohibited||All bass catches prohibited|
|Maximum catch limit||Maximum 1% by weight of all marine organisms per day.</br></br>Unavoidable by-catch of 100kg per month||Maximum 1% by weight of all marine organisms per day.</br></br>Unavoidable by-catch of 180kg per month||5 tonnes per year||Unavoidable by-catch of 1.2 tonnes per year||All bass catches prohibited||All bass catches prohibited|
6. Charter Vessels
If you have a licensed fishing vessel and have been issued an authorisation you can catch and retain bass in accordance with that authorisation, your fishing licence and this guidance.
From 1 October to 31 December 2018 if you do not have a licensed fishing vessel, not more than one specimen of European seabass may be retained and landed per recreational fisherman per day in the restricted area.
If you have a fishing vessel with a licence but without a bass authorisation you could still take recreational fishermen out to fish. From 1 October to 31 December 2018 not more than one specimen of European seabass may be retained and landed per recreational fisherman per day in the restricted area. However, no bass may be sold in relation to any recreational fishing.
Recreational bass restrictions include fishing activity from a vessel and the shore.
6.1 Pelagic Landing Obligation
You must discard all bass caught when using pelagic gears as bass is classed as a prohibited species when caught with unauthorised gears.
6.2 Demersal Landing Obligation
The demersal landing obligation is being gradually phased in but does not currently apply to bass in 2018. This means that you must discard all bass unless you have an authorisation and are fishing with the correct gear type for that authorisation.
During February and March 2018 all bass fishing is prohibited and bass catches must be returned to the sea. Fishers should take all reasonable measures to avoid and minimise bass discards.
7. Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS)
The MCRS (‘minimum size’) 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.
If you want to catch and retain bass with the above gear types in 2018 you must have an authorisation to do so. In 2018, commercial fishermen have been authorised to catch and retain bass with certain gears. Authorisations were 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 a 2018 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. Unless otherwise notified, your 2018 authorisation will be valid until January 2019.
If you are replacing a vessel that has a bass authorisation a transfer of authorisation will be considered providing the replacement vessel is no larger in engine size and tonnage. In addition, owners intending to sell vessels being replaced should also make the purchaser aware that the vessel being sold will lose its authorisation to catch bass once the transfer is completed (written evidence from the purchaser to confirm their understanding may be required).
Individuals wishing to transfer an existing authorisation to a new/replacement vessel should make initial contact with their local MMO office, providing evidence that their circumstances meets the above mentioned criteria.
Authorisations will transfer to a new owner of the vessel when the ownership of the Union vessel is transferred.
The current catch uptake by that vessel will also be transferred – i.e. the catch limits will not be reset. For example, if a vessel has used all of its hooks & line annual catch limit then the new owner of the vessel will not be permitted to catch and retain further bass using hooks & lines.
If you have not received an authorisation in 2018 and did not submit a representation claim during 2017 you can submit evidence to the MMO to support a claim for eligibility to fish for bass in 2018. The deadline for representations is 17:00 on Wednesday 28 February 2018.
If you applied for an authorisation in 2017 and your application was unsuccessful the MMO would only consider your case in the event of substantive new evidence being available that was not considered last year. Such cases should be submitted in line with the MMO’s published customer complaints process.
9.1 Making a representation
If you are submitting a representation during February 2018 please include the following details:
Contact details, including:
- full name
- telephone number
- email address
Vessel/Licence details, including:
- name of vessel
- PLN number
- RSS number
- licence/entitlement number
- does the representation relate to line, fixed net, trawl fishing or a combination
- evidence that a vessel was fishing for bass during the reference period 1 July 2015 to 30 September 2016, including the gear type used (e.g. sales notes including recorded method of catch and/or inspection reports)
- evidence that fishing for bass during the reference period was not possible. For example, personal incapacity or inability to work (e.g. medical certificate or report), full time care giving (e.g. letter from local authority or GP, receipt for care allowance), vessel incapacity (e.g. contracts, bank statements, insurance documents, repair documents, tax returns etc.) and new vessel commission (e.g. contract, bank statement or evidence of transfer of monies for the purchase of the vessel and / or licence / entitlement).
The MMO will require supporting evidence to verify representations and reserves the right to corroborate with third parties.
You should provide clear, credible and compelling evidence to support your representations. This should be sufficient for the MMO to be satisfied that the discretion should be exercised in your favour.
10. Contact us
Please send individual representations to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to send documents electronically, please post them to the address below. In the case of electronic and postal replies, they must be received by the MMO by 5pm on Wednesday 28 February 2018.
Fisheries Management Team
Information you send to the MMO will be handled in line with the Data Protection Act 1998. The MMO aims to respond to any customer representations by 31 March 2017.
11. Further information
Contact your local office for further information.