Bass Compliance Direction

Bass Compliance Direction - 2020 - EU Legislation

Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123 was released on the 27th January 2020. Article 10 specifies the Measures on European seabass fisheries. These are not byelaw restrictions introduced by D&S IFCA, but they do apply within the D&S IFCA District.

The Council Regulation, in full, is not easy to read and this can make it difficult to understand.

Different restrictions apply to commercial and recreational fishers.

Below is a summary from Article 10 for the European Sea Bass (Dicentrachrus labrax) Measures for 2020. These measures apply to the whole of the Devon and Severn IFCA District including within the estuaries. Detailed guidance on the implementation of the bass measures for 2020 is available here.

Commercial Fishing

In the first instant, the legislation prohibits Union fishing vessels, as well as commercial fishers from the shore, fishing for, retaining, transhipping, relocating and landing bass caught in different ICES areas including the area within the D&S IFCA District.

  1. There is no fishing for bass in February and March
  2. Commercial fisheries require a specific authorisation by the MMO to catch and retain bass.

By way of derogation to the 1st paragraph in the legislation, fishing is possible with restrictions dependant on different gear types, and where more than one gear type is used in a single calendar month, the lowest catch limit applies.

Gear Type & Restriction

Demersal Trawls

Unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 520kg per two months and 5% of the weight of the total catch per fishing trip.

Seine Nets:

Unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 520kg per two months and 5% of the weight of the total catch per fishing trip.

Hooks and Lines:

Amounts not exceeding 5.7 tonnes per vessel per year.

Fixed Gillnets:

Unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 1.4 tonnes per vessel per year.

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 2020 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

These are set out within the Bass (Specified Areas) (Prohibition of Fishing) (Variation) Order 1999.

There are restrictions on fishing for bass in different areas at certain times of the year, including a prohibition on the use of Sand Eels (Ammodytidae spp) as bait. The bass nursery area legislation is relevant to commercial and recreational fishers.

Key Information:

  • 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

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.

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.