Bass Compliance Direction

Bass Regulations

Article 10 of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123, The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021 SI 2021/698, and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 SI 2021/1429 detail the restrictions for catching European Seabass for both Commercial and Recreational fisheries.

Commercial Fishing

Commercial catching, retaining, transhipment and landing of bass is subject to restrictions. Article 10 of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123, The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021 and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 detail the full restrictions for catching European Seabass.

The commercial restrictions relating to bass are as follows:

It is prohibited to retain bass in February and March.

During January and during the period from 1st April - end of December in each calendar year, commercial vessels may fish for, retain, tranship, relocate, or land Bass with the following gear and within the following limits:

  • Demersal trawls and seines - unavoidable bycatch not exceeding 380kg per month and 5% of the weight of total catches per trip
  • Hooks and lines - not exceeding 5.7 tonnes per vessel per year
  • Fixed gillnets - by-catches not exceeding 1.4 tonnes per vessel per year
  • Commercial fisheries using hooks and lines or fixed gillnets require a specific authorisation by the MMO to catch and retain bass.

The legislation also prohibits any commercial bass fisheries from the shore.

Recreational Fishing

Article 10 of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123, The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021 and The Sea Fisheries (Amendment etc.) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 detail the full restrictions for catching European Seabass.

To assist recreational fishers, Devon and Severn IFCA have created a recreational bass fishing leaflet (pdf) which can be viewed here.

The Bass fishing rules for recreational fishers are as follows:

  • Bass may only be retained between 1st March and the end of November in each calendar year
  • Two Bass may be retained per person, per day within this period
  • Bass retained between these dates must measure at least the Minimum Conservation Reference Size of 42cm in length
  • Fixed nets cannot be used to catch or retain bass
  • These rules apply when fishing from a boat or from the shore
Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS)

This remains at 42cm and applies to commercial and recreational fishers.

Recreational Fishing

For the benefit of recreational fishers, a flyer has been produced to simplify some of the restrictions for bass that apply to this sector.

The Recreational Bass Fishing Regulations flyer can be viewed in full here.

  • Catch and Release only in the months of January, February and December.
  • 2 bass per fisher, per day during the months March to November inclusive.
  • Fixed nets cannot be used to catch or retain bass.

Bass Nursery Areas

There are restrictions on fishing for bass in nursery areas at certain times of year, which apply to both commercial and recreational fishers.

The Bass (Specified Areas) (Prohibition of Fishing) (Variation) Order 1999 sets out the following prohibition for fishing in Bass Nursery Areas:

"Fishing for bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), or fishing for any species of sea-fish using sand-eels (Ammodytidae) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the areas described in column 1 of the Schedule to this Order is prohibited during the period specified in relation to each area in column 2 thereof."

Within the Devon and Severn IFCA District, the areas, and specified periods for which the prohibition applies are as follows:

River Exe: Fishing for bass, or fishing for any species of sea fish using Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the River Exe Bass Nursery Area is prohibited between 30th April and 1st November.

River Teign: Fishing for bass, or fishing for any species of sea fish using Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the River Teign Bass Nursery area is prohibited between 30th April and 1st November.

River Dart: Fishing for bass, or fishing for any species of sea fish using Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the River Dart Bass Nursery Area is prohibited between 30th April and 1st January.

Salcombe Harbour and the Kingsbridge Estuary: Fishing for bass, or fishing for any species of sea fish using Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the Salcombe Harbour and Kingsbridge Estuary Bass Nursery Area is prohibited between 30th April and 1st January.

River Avon: Fishing for bass, or fishing for any species of sea fish using Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the River Avon Bass Nursery Area is prohibited between 30th April and 1st January.

River Yealm: Fishing for bass, or fishing for any species of sea fish using Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the River Yealm Bass Nursery Area is prohibited between 30th April and 1st January.

Plymouth Rivers Tamar and Plym: Fishing for bass, or fishing for any species of sea fish using Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the Plymouth Rivers Bass Nursery Area is prohibited all year.

River Taw and River Torridge: Fishing for bass, or fishing for any species of sea fish using Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait, by any fishing boat within any part of the River Taw and River Torridge Bass Nursery Areas between 30th April and 1st November.

Key Points

Be aware of the dates when the bass nursery areas are active

When active, you must not target bass if fishing from a vessel

When active and when using a vessel, you must not use sand eel as bait regardless of species targeted

Enforcement

Any person found breaching the legislation outlined above may be subject to enforcement action including receiving a Financial Administrative Penalty (FAP) or court proceedings. 

The D&S IFCA Compliance and Enforcement Strategy can be read here.

Page updated: 13th May 2022.