Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Bass Fishing Guidance 2022


 

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 sea bass 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 sea bass retained shall be 42 cm.

For further information please see The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021 and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021.

These rules apply if you are fishing from a boat or from the shore.

Commercial bass fishing

The catch, retention, transhipment and landing of bass 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 

2.1 Authorisations

Under The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 all commercial fishing vessels are now authorised to land bass caught by demersal trawls and seines and no written authorisation is required. It is important to note that bass caught using trawls and seines remain subject to a 5% by weight of all marine organisms per trip and an unavoidable by-catch of 380kg per calendar month.

If you want to catch and retain bass by other gears you must have a written authorisation from the MMO 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.

Once 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
  • Channel VIId, VIIe
  • Celtic Sea VIIf, VIIg*
  • Irish Sea VIIa*
  • 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

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.

No bass can be taken by shore-based fixed gillnets (gear codes GTR, GNS, GNC, FYK, FPN and FIX) except from permitted shore-based nets up to the following limits;

  • 26 nets in relation to the NWIFCA district
  • 5 nets in relation to the NEIFCA district
  • 1 net in relation to the D&SIFCA district bv up to 50 nets in the Welsh zone.

For further information please see The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021 and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021.

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.

Fishery Restrictions

Demersal Trawls and Seines - 
Closed February and March
Hooks and Lines - Closed February and March
Fixed Gillnets Nets - Closed February and March
All other gears (including drift nets) All bass catches

Maximum catch limit

Maximum 5% by weight of all marine organisms per trip. 
Unavoidable by-catch of 380kg per calendar month 5.7 tonnes per year
By-catch of 1.4 tonnes per year All bass catches prohibited

2.7 Landing Obligation

The landing obligation does not apply to sea bass. Therefore any catches with unauthorised gears and catches with authorised gears over the authorized limit must be discarded.

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.