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Monday, 1 February 2016

Statutory guidance Bass Fishing: Catch limits, closures and minimum size

Just published by the MMO: Bass Fishing: Catch limits, closures and minimum size

  • What rules apply to commercial fisherman
  • Where commercial bass fishing is permanently closed
  • When you can fish commercially and how much bass you can keep
  • Bass and the landing obligation
  • Capped Licences
  • Recreational fishing for bass
  • Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS)
  • If you break the law
  • Further Information


If you are a commercial or recreational fisherman for bass you will need to comply with the new rules for:

where you can catch bass when you can catch bass
how many bass you can catch
minimum size you can keep

1. What rules apply to commercial fisherman The rules apply if you are a commercial fishermen and you:

target bass or catch them as a by-catch
use one of the regulated fishing gears
operate in the North Sea, Channel, South West Approaches, West of Ireland, Celtic Sea or Irish Sea 2. Where commercial bass fishing is permanently closed
You must not catch, retain (keep), tranship (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

3. When you can fish commercially and how much bass you can keep From 1 January 2016 to 30 June 2016 you may only use certain fishing methods to fish for or retain bass as a by-catch. The quantity of bass you can keep is subject to limits and these are described in the table below.

You may only retain bass during February and March if fishing with demersal trawls and seines when up to 1 per cent of the catch retained on board at any time may be bass. You may not keep any bass caught using other fishing methods in these months; it must be discarded.

3.1 1 January 2016 to 30 June 2016 (inclusive)

Sea Area ICES Division Demersal trawls and seines Fixed Nets, Hooks and lines All other gear types (including drift nets)

North Sea IVb, IVc Up to 1% bass by-catch 1,300kg bass per vessel per month except February and March All bass catches prohibited

Channel VIId, VIIe Up to 1% bass by-catch 1,300kg bass per vessel per month except February and March All bass catches prohibited

Celtic Sea VIIf, VIIg* Up to 1% bass by-catch 1,300kg bass per vessel per month except February and March All bass catches prohibited

Irish Sea VIIa* Up to 1% bass by-catch 1,300kg bass per vessel per month except February and March All bass catches prohibited

South West Approaches VIIh Up to 1% bass by-catch 1,300kg bass per vessel per month except February and March All bass catches prohibited

* Inside 12nm limit only

From 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016 you may fish for bass subject to catch limits. Depending on the subject to the limits in the table below.

Commercial fishing restrictions map 1 January 2016 to 30 June 2016.

3.2 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016 (inclusive)

Sea Area ICES Division Demersal trawls and seines Fixed Nets, Hooks and lines All other gear types (including drift nets)

North Sea IVb, IVc 1,000kg bass per vessel per month 1,300kg bass per vessel per month 1,000kg bass per vessel per month

Channel VIId, VIIe 1,000kg bass per vessel per month 1,300kg bass per vessel per month 1,000kg bass per vessel per month

Celtic Sea VIIf, VIIg* 1,000kg bass per vessel per month 1,300kg bass per vessel per month 1,000kg bass per vessel per month

Irish Sea VIIa* 1,000kg bass per vessel per month 1,300kg bass per vessel per month 1,000kg bass per vessel per month

South West Approaches VIIh 1,000kg bass per vessel per month 1,300kg bass per vessel per month 1,000kg bass per vessel per month

* Inside 12nm limit only

All bass that you catch from each area will count towards your monthly total catch limit. If you fish in more than one area, you must combine the catches and the total quantity of bass retained must not exceed the monthly limit.

If you use different gear during a calendar month then the lowest catch limit for that fishing gear applies. For example, if you use fixed gill nets and a demersal trawl during July, the maximum permitted catch for your vessel is 1,000kg.

The catch limit applies to a single vessel - you can’t transfer it between vessels.

4. Bass and the landing obligation

This applies to commercial fisheries. Bass is subject to catch limits and therefore the landing obligation (“discards ban”) applies.

If you target pelagic fisheries with pelagic gear then you must land all the bass caught unless you are operating in an area where commercial fishing for bass is prohibited, in which case you may not keep any bass caught; it must be discarded.

Further information on the pelagic landing obligation.

The demersal landing obligation is being gradually brought in. The demersal landing obligation does not currently apply to bass in 2016. It will apply to bass in all fisheries no later than 2019.

5. Capped Licences

If you have a capped licence you are subject to the prohibitions, by-catch restrictions and the monthly bass catch limits outlined above.

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 2016 to 30 June 2016 1 July 2016 to 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

This applies whether you are fishing from a vessel or from 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 landing obligation may require you to land all the bass caught during fishing operations.

8. If you break the law You can be fined or prosecuted if you don’t follow the rules.

Read the Marine Management Organisation’s (MMO) compliance and enforcement strategy.

Penalties

You can be given a penalty if you admit or are found guilty of an offence.

A court may:

give you an unlimited fine
order the confiscation of your fish or give you a fine to the value of the fish
order the confiscation of your fishing gear

The MMO may offer you an administrative penalty up to a maximum of £10,000 instead of going to court. Read the financial administrative penalties for fisheries offences for more information.



9. Further Information Council Regulation 

(EU) 2016/72 of 22 January 2016 fixing for 2016 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, and amending Regulation (EU) 2015/104

Published 1 February 2016