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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bass-industry-guidance-2020/bass-fishing-guidance-2020
1. Recreational bass fishing
Recreational fisheries, including from shore, in ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 6a, 7a to 7k are limited to catch-and-release only during 01 January to 29 February and 1 December to 31 December. From 1 March to 30 November, not more than two seabass may be retained per fisherman per day.
In recreational fisheries in ICES divisions 8a and 8b, a maximum of two seabass may be retained per recreational fisherman per day throughout the year.
The minimum size of European seabass retained shall be 42 cm.
No bass can be taken by fixed nets.
These rules apply if you are fishing from a boat or from the shore.
2. Commercial bass fishing
The catch, retention, transhipment and landing of bass during 2020 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
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.
2.2 When and where you can catch bass
You must not catch, retain, tranship 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 and from 1 April until 31 December 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.
|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)
2.3 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.
2.4 Fixed gillnets
Fixed gillnets are considered by the MMO as falling within the definition of ‘static nets’ in article 6(23) of Regulation (EU) 2019/1241 of the European Parliament and of the Council as being “any type of gillnet…hat is anchored to the seabed for fish to swim into and become entangled or enmeshed in the netting”.
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.
2.5 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.
2.6 How much can be retained
You can only retain and land bass subject to the limits below. Catch limits are not transferable between vessels.
|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 5% by weight of all marine organisms per day. Unavoidable by-catch of 520kg per two consecutive calendar months||Maximum 5% by weight of all marine organisms per day. Unavoidable by-catch of 520kg per two consecutive calendar months||5.7 tonnes per year||Unavoidable by-catch of 1.4 tonnes per year||All bass catches prohibited||All bass catches prohibited|
2.7 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.
2.8 Demersal Landing Obligation
The demersal landing obligation does not currently apply to bass. 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 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.
2.9 Vessel Replacement and transfer of authorisation
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. It is the responsibility of any vessel owner to seek relevant approvals from the MMO prior to making a commitment to purchase a new fishing vessel, where they are wanting to transfer any existing authorisation.
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).
Where a vessel is lost at sea and/or is damaged beyond repair a transfer of authorisation will be considered providing the replacement vessel is no larger in engine size and tonnage. Individuals wishing to transfer an existing authorisation to a new/replacement vessel should contact email@example.com as soon as practicable, 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 and lines.
3. 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. Within ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 6a, 7a to 7k from 1 March to 30 November if you do not have a licensed fishing vessel, not more than two 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 March to 30 November not more than two 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.
In ICES divisions 8a and 8b, a maximum of three seabass may be retained per recreational fisherman per day. Recreational bass restrictions include fishing activity from a vessel and the shore.
4. 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.