The recommendation by the EU for bass landings in 2016 have been announced today ( ).

In the Northern European area (containing the UK Ireland and Northern France) the proposal stated landings should be reduced from an estimated 2656 tonnes landed this year to 1449 tonnes in 2016 (a 46% reduction).

It proposed this reduction will be achieved by a:

  • Complete ban on landings of bass (both commercial and recreational) from the beginning of January to the end of June
  • 1 bass bag limit per day for anglers from July to December
  • 1 Tonne per month limit on bass landings July to December for commercial boats.

Compared to the dark frustrating years of campaigning I experienced from the Millennium to 2014 when nothing was achieved, this represents further significant further and shows a continuned willingness by the EU to try and make some difference. Yet given the evidence on stock levels, the known economic and environmental costs of different means of fishing and the benefits to be gained by allocating the available landings to those who bring the greatest value from the resource, then todays announcement is BOTH too little AND disproportionately affects us anglers – the group who brings the greatest value from the stock. Or to put it another way; in this battle to save our bass, the EU proposals lack firepower and are aimed at the wrong target.

The EU scientists (ICES) statement on the bass stocks this year said we needed a reduction to 541 tonnes just to prevent further decline; so I fail to see how can the EU come up with these figures if it is serious about making stocks sustainable through emergency measures?

Additionally, the EU claims anglers take around 25% of the bass. Even if you believe this figure, we anglers are also the group who fish for bass most selectively and sustainably – and a vast number of us return our catch anyway. So why are anglers getting a reduction of two thirds (in the one half a year we can take bass), while for example inshore gill netters – who are relatively unselective in what they catch, catch birds and other marine life as by catch, and frequently have to throw back dead the undersized fish they net – still be able to still land 1 tonne per month?

Many including myself believe, that the only obvious way to achieve the 541 tonne figure without a complete ban on all bass landings is to raise the minimum landing size to 48 or 50cm (possibly with a maximum size around 65cm) and make the bass fishery hook and line only. This would maximise value at market, be the most selective means of catching and alow fish of the wrong size or species to be returned. It would also allow smaller fish to breed at least once and also preserve the big most fertile fish in the population).

Watch this space for the official BASS response and advice on who to email or write to. Contacting the fisheries EU decision makers to tell them our views is however going to be vital, as you can bet the commercial fishermen will also be equally be displeased! Past history suggests they will be compaining: laying claim that they should be allowed to overexploit our bass fishery in a more unsustainable and damaging way than these proposals permit them to do. Therefore a powerful response from anglers is crucial for our bass and our future bass fishing.

(The views of Matt Spence)

  1. Do not forget to emphasize NOT A SINGLE MEASURE for Bay of Biscay.

    This is dramatic: 541 tones will be landed nearly 3 times, and the area of Bay of Biscay will be the escape zone for all the big boats and thrawlers. Make them understand that there is NO GENETIC DIFFERENCE between fish from British Channel and North sea and Bay of BISCAY (work from M.FRITSCH and alter, Fisheries Reseach, 13-09-2006).
    I think I am to engage a public disapproval of all this mess : politics are blind and uneffective. Human beings must take hold of the joy stick now…
    Sorry for my broken English. PG

  2. It is a start but we anglers will need more from the commercial side
    do these guy’s not realize that not protecting the bass now will mean that there will not any bass in the future to fish for

  3. Who will police this? I understand it was totally disregarded last year

  4. being a pleasure angler,it seems a bit strange us being hit with a one fish limit when the drift netters are coursing so much damage to the stocks most nights,and not only to the bass stocks, diving birds are also killed as we have seen first hand.
    so why not look a bit more in depth at that problem?????

  5. La Commission européenne ne propose pas l’interdiction de la pêche de loisir pendant les 6 premiers mois de 2016. Lisez soigneusement l’article 10 de cette proposition. Il y a certainement dû y avoir un changement de dernière minute…

    The european commission does not propose a fishing ban for recreational anglers in the first half of 2016. Read carrefully the article 10 of the proposal. There must be a last-minute change.

    Voici cet article :
    Here is the article 10 :

    Article 10 Measures on Sea bass fisheries
    1. It shall be prohibited for Union vessels to fish for sea bass in ICES divisions VIIb, VIIc, VIIj and VIIk, as well as in the waters of ICES divisions VIIa and VIIg that are more than 12 nautical miles from the baseline under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. It shall be prohibited for Union vessels to retain on board, tranship, relocate or land sea bass caught in that area.
    2. From 1 January 2016 to 30 June 2016, it shall be prohibited to Union vessels to fish for sea bass in ICES divisions IVb, IVc, VIIa and from VIId to VIIh, and to retain on board, relocate, tranship or land sea bass caught in that area. However, a vessel deploying demersal trawls and seines30 shall be permitted to retain on board catches of sea bass that are not more than 1% of the weight of the total catches of marine organisms on board.
    3. From 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016 it shall be prohibited for Union vessels to fish quantities exceeding 1 000 kilograms per any vessel per month of sea bass in the following areas:
    (a) ICES divisions IVb, IVc, VIId, VIIe VIIf and VIIh;
    (b) waters within 12 nautical miles from baseline under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom in ICES divisions VIIa and VIIg.
    During that period, it shall also be prohibited for Union vessels to retain on board, relocate, tranship or land quantities of sea bass exceeding 1 000 kilograms caught in those areas.
    The catch limits set in this paragraph shall not be transferable from one month to another or between vessels. Member States shall report to the Commission catches of sea bass per type of gear not later than 20 days after the end of each month.
    4. In recreational fisheries in ICES divisions IVb, IVc, VIIa, VIId, VIIe, VIIf, VIIg, VIIh, VIIj and VIIk not more than one specimen of sea bass may be retained per fisherman per day.

  6. in response to michael morgan.
    I am an ex rod and line commercial bass fisherman, and i can tell you the vast majority of commercials don’t give a “—–” about sustainability. There are night time drift netters all along the channel raping the sea of life every winter, cathing so many bass the price plummets (as well as killing seals, porpoises, bird life etc etc). Unfortuantely i’ve seen this first hand, tried to report it to fisheries and been ignored. They don’t care, and just want the fish before the next person. Its all about the lowest common denominator with most of them, Money. I totally agree with the views of Matt Spence.

  7. I think the only way to save our bass stocks is to do the same as they did in America for the striped bass. A complete blanket ban on all commercial fishing for bass with the same rules if they are caught catching bass. Also a complete ban on gill nets and drift nets. I say rod and line anglers should be allowed to continue to catch bass but only be allowed to keep 1 bass a week and it must be over 50 cms.As a fly, bait and lure fisherman I do not want to lose our beautiful BASS .I think i t is utter rubbish to suggest that recreational fishermen catch 25 % of the BASS STOCKS.

  8. Who will police this charade? The under ten metre boats that operate nets a the eastern end of the Menai Straits under cover of darkness take everything, birds, seals and other wildlife are simply disregarded. It is simply about the money and as nobody has stopped them they become ever bolder.

    I am all for the complete ban of commercial fishing by any means whatsoever in Britsh waters.

    Ireland had the balls to do it, it is about time we as a nation did it as well. We potentially have a massively lucrative recreational industry available and we are seeing it murdered for the gratfiication of a few.

    Most commercials simply ignore the rules knowing they have enough resource (money) available to pay the paltry fines IF they ever come to court, such is the weakness of the defence of our fisheries.

    They are laughing at us, because they know that no matter what rules are imposed they will be still able to continue uninterrupted under the cover of the night.
    Instead of pussyfooting for the limitation of this or that, we have the right to close the fishery to commercial fishing of any kind just as Ireland did.

    We should be hardlining now,


  9. The EU has no authority whatsoever to impose bag limits on leisure anglers and EU Commissioners have confirmed this in public in the past. They have no control over the common fishery or the fish in it. Our elected representatives should be telling the EU where to stick the 1 fish bag limit. I have no objection to bag limits but I sure as hell object to them being imposed illegally by some EU official who no one voted for and no one can get rid of. The EU have made such an unmitigated mess of the management of our commercial fishery only a fool would allow them to take illegal control of our common fishery.
    If our elected representatives will not put a stop to this illegal interference by the EU the only option left open to me is to ignore any illegal restriction imposed on leisure anglers by the EU

  10. we must have a ban on all forms of fishing for bass for profit and leave the rod
    and leave the rod and line fisherman . Who fish for pleasure to a ! fish limit .with
    the min size limit at 50 cm and the max limit at 60 cm limited to 1 bass per
    week . All gill and drift nets to be collected and destroyed .This ban must
    last for 10 years .Anybody caught fishing for bass must lose their boat or house .We must be tough .If not the most beautiful fish in the sea is domed
    We must copy what they did in the States . this from a salt water fly fisherman.

  11. As is always the case in these situations everyone is pointing the finger as to who is to blame.For years marine scientist have been presenting information which has been telling us about sharp declines in many of our fishing species and nothing is done until we get that final red letter through the door warning us that imminent action is required.So why is nothing done earlier.You cannot blame the commercial fishery entirely they have just been allowed to do what do until some Euro MP realises that he needs to get some new batteries for his tannoy and start shouting a few things at us all.Pointing the finger at each other is not going to help we are where we are so let’s deal with it as adults.Part of the problem with protecting marine life is unlike elephant’s we can’t really see their numbers on the ground when we only encounter two elephant’s on our way to the supermarket we know we have a problem an need to act to give them some protection.With fish we don’t see them until we catch one and a lot of their lives are still a mystery to us.I think there is a failure to act earlier because apart from a handful of scientists and groups such as yourselfs not many of truly understand until its too late.Anyway we are all listening at last to the handful of people who I would hope know what they are talking about .There is no quick fix here and whatever the EU impose on us there are sure to be people that will still break the rules but someone needs to set the bar and we all need to do our bit to help protect a species that gives so much pleasure to a recreational fisherman such as myself and provides an income for our commercial fishery fleet .Lets stop blaming whoever and as responsible adults try and do our bit where we can.

  12. Tony,
    I appreciate where you are coming from, but it is only by recognising what are the major causative factors of the population decline that we recognise how we can reverse the decline. Rod and line commercial bass fishermen have been telling the guys that decimate the winter run of fish along the channel for the last few years. The reply? They just laugh and brag about how many hundred grand they earnt in four months. These guys literally run out miles of drift nets every night, rather coincidentally the main spring run of fish stopped the following year that this practice started. The focus MUST be on the causative factors of the decline, at number one are the drift netters, closely followed by the trawlers. This can be backed up by the landing figures, the number landed by pleasure anglers is pure guesswork.
    Regards, Dave

  13. Sure I completely agree that these methods of fishing have a devastating impact on fish stocks.But as I said earlier if people are allowed to do these things and make a lot of money then they will do so .If people are allowed to go 70 miles an hour on the motorway then most people will do that and some even more, its the same in anything We have come to a point in bass fishing where before we could go as fast as we liked to now being told we have to slow right down and sure for those of us who love the sport it’s a painful episode.In the space of a year or two we have gone from being able to catch freely legal size fish to increased sizes and a three fish limit per day and now possibly a one fish per day limit all of which is great news for bass but as I said in my earlier post it should never have come to this.Anyway things are starting to happen to afford the bass the kind of protection it should of received years ago I agree with you that inshore netters do major damage to our fish stocks this is something maybe that a lot of decision makers in Brussels don’t understand .They understand about pair trawlers but do they understand that under darkness there can be huge runs of bass in a few feet of water and these can be easy prey for the netters. Anyway I’m sure the way things are going that the screw will be turned on them next when they relise that despite all these new laws there is no major improvement in the recovery of bass stocks.Anyway where do we go next anyone for a spot of mullet fishing now where did I leave that loaf of bread.

  14. Following on from my earlier post I would just like to add that if you look at the world in general it doesn’t have a great track record with dealing with any type of crisis.Despite our concerns with growing CO 2 emissions large swathes of our woodland throughout the world are cut down every year despite the advice given many years ago by scientists of the growing CO 2 emissions and the damage to the ozone layer .Again governments have only acted when they got that final red letter through the door.Many species of our wildlife has become endangered through man’s greed but perhaps the word greed is a bit strong .If you can get a few thousand dollars for a piece of ivory and it feeds your family for a year and sends your kids to school and you risk your life in doing so, as many poachers are shot, then how can we say anything .Much of the wildlife in Africa was hunted by people that did it for a kick it wasn’t to feed their children and to send them to school and some of their descendants have become patrons of these charities that try to protect endangered species. But at least they acknowledge some guilt of their ancestors. How many commercial bass fishermen would risk being shot at for a few thousand dollars for breaking the rules not too many I’m sure, because despite their please to these changes their children will still have an education and some food on the table .Yes you may have to sacrifice the 4×4 but in someway you are responsible for bringing us to where we are with the bass stocks, as was the case with Cod a few years ago.I am writing this as a reflection on human nature it is not an attack on any individual or group we are in the world together we all just need to assume responsibility for the things we do .As individuals we can make a difference to the world we live in let’s somehow embrace these changes, acknowledge that
    we are all in some way responsible and move on.

  15. It seems to me that no-one has mentioned the fact that a lot of so called bass anglers are selling their fish illegally.
    This is one way that the powers that be can police the landings of these so called bass bandits. IF YOU LAND TOO MANY YOU ARE NICKED.
    This bass ban does not mean that you cannot go out and catch bass, it just means that you have to return those caught alive.
    Course fishermen have been doing it for years.
    Diversify your catch and you can still take your dinner home.
    Bass angling is great fun and we need to preserve the stocks for future generations.
    This is a step in the right direction.
    I am very sorry for the commercial rod and line and inshore long line fishermen and support all of you in your quest to get a better deal!

  16. I have no sympathy for commercial fishermen, they have decimated all of our fish stocks. Some may be responsible people but I remain unconvinced. It is unbelievable that leisure anglers are being blamed and treated disproportionately. In 20 years I have line caught or speared less than 30 sea bass!! To put me in the same category as a commercial fishermen (by whatever means of catching) is absurd !! Furthermore, not applying these rules consistently throughout the EU is also absurd and panders no doubt to the fishing industry. I am happy to have sensible minimum size and quantity restrictions to do my bit despite my comments above because this year I spearfished more regularly than ever before and saw no more than 15 seabass (only three taken/correct size). I saw lots of small undersized pollack and very few mullet. This is the worst year that I have ever experienced. The ocean has been depleted primarily by commercial greed to an unforgivable extent. Leisure fishing from the shore is self limiting because it is small scale. I believe that a total ban on all commercial fishing is the only effective way to police and stop illegal exploitation and help our oceans to recover.

  17. Carl,
    i completely agree with your comments. Unfortunately money and jobs are the only things that politicians believe are important. Those of us that have the ability to appreciate the health and quality of our planet are seen as crackpots.

  18. All the commercials are doing now is landing their fish under other boats quotas, so the current 1 ton a month doesn’t even affect them. They are still going out and decimating the stocks. Some boats are spreading it all around the country. Alledgedly some individuals in local fisheries are privy to this and are turning a blind eye. This is currently happening all along the channel.

  19. I am flabberghasted by the new EU rules. If anyone is stupid enough to think that shore caught bass is a primary cause of the depletion of bass stocks then they clearly have no idea on how to measure the problem. I am ‘one of the few’ night time bass anglers that get out on the rocks of Gower. I know by word of mouth and can see how many other anglers there are on the various marks on most nights and what the catch rate is. If you want to see where the real damage is being done every night then see the well lit drift nets between Burry Port and the Worm. I know that boat limits will be circumvented by less scrupilous operators. Those that comply are obliged to return (dead) overfished stock. All this ban will do is decimate the tourist fishing industry, bring more hardship to tackle dealers, criminalise the young and poorest, demonise the line angler as there will be presumption they fish for bass, stretch limited law enforcement on a wild goose chase. The anglers I know act very responsibly – self policing with a view to sustainability. They work hard to gather the funds and bait to enjoy a quiet and pleasureable pastime. To remove the right to take one or three bass of legal size from the shore angler is OTT given the impact elsewhere on the stocks by commercial fishermen. The way past this and other other unfair restrictions on the average rod angler is to complain, sign petitions, inform others, take some sort of lawful action to voice opinion and then vote!!! I will be voting to get out of Europe on this issue alone because it directly affects my favourite past time.

  20. Hi, I’ve just seen a message on the EAA Facebook page suggesting that the new 0 bag rules may not be in place yet. Does anyone have anymore info on this??

  21. It is unfair to target recreational anglers but directing blame for the decline in Bass toward the Small vessel Commercial fisherman is also unfair, the number of unlicensed drift and gill netters targeting Bass and Mullet for sale to unscrupulous dealers outnumber the Commercial guys, the lack of commitment from enforcing authorities has allowed this practice to continue, additionally the ‘big boys’ in the Bay of Biscay with the political clout have decimated the stocks and will most likely continue to do so!
    Let’s face up to it, we are a third rate country in the conservation charts and we live in a greedy, self centred society that doesn’t really give a toss whether or not anything continues to inhabit our seas!

  22. I came across a newspaper piece mentioning a Bass ban just before xmas and thought it must be referring to some idiotic, ill conceived, EU bull and dismissed it as such, now having seen the actuality of it in the same newspaper and here, I am now utterly lost for how to react to this. As a lad I fished for Bass and took some good bags each summer until suddenly the good catches ended, since then I have taken very few Bass(lack of rod hours and a self imposed strict size limit). I would say that most anglers would happily limit their catches – if they do not already do so, if it meant we could safely enjoy our sport forever and preferably see improvement year on year.
    The only way I believe this can be achieved is by a total ban on large commercial landings of Bass, small hard won Bass catches by small boats could surely be accommodated, and anglers I have no doubt impose tougher controls and policing on themselves than any law might achieve.
    The idiots who think up the EU laws are utterly clueless, and have probably never experienced catching a Bass or the even the joy being out there in they’re environment just trying to.
    Our British Bass fishery is worth hugely more as a sport attraction than to furnish some fancy restaurant with this particular species – take the skin off and serve up a perfectly cooked piece of mullet and 99% of people wouldn’t notice.
    I agree with a previous posts – VOTE NO TO THE EU, enough is enough as far as I’m concerned.
    I wish you tight lines in 2016 and lets hope some sense can be imposed before its to late.

  23. Derek, the under ten metre fleet is abusing the 1 tonne a month limit. They land their fish under other boats quotas who have not been to sea. The under ten metres fleets sussed out the nightime winter drift netting seven years ago with a near immediate mass decline in bass stocks. the fisheries know this is happening but don’t show the resolve needed to come down hard and stop them.

  24. Dave, I suppose I can only comment on what I observe in my locality (northwest), I totally agree the Enforcing authority do not for some reason seem to possess the confidence to enforce, if you have not already done so then I would encourage you and anyone else with concerns and evidence to substantiate those concerns to contact your local IFCA, in my area I get sick of listening to Bass anglers twining on about illegal fishing that are rarely prepared to actually do something about it! There are people out there willing to speak on your behalf, use them!

  25. So to save any more confusion , can I fish off a beach with a rod & line & take legal size fish for the table, if not when can I & how many. I probably Bass fish about 10 times a year due to work commitments etc

  26. Important:

    The UK government web site (1) says, with regards to the 2016 bass fishing restrictions “Until the new regulation is published the existing measures in Council Regulation (EU) 2015/104 will continue to remain in force (2)

    I have read through (EU) 2015/10 and it says quite clearly: Article 22 Recreational & Sports Fisheries ” where appropriate, member states shall allocate a specific quota for recreational and sports fishereis from their quotas allocated in annex ID.

    I suspect that the UK government had the option of allocating a 2 bag limit to the recreational angler for 10 months of the season but opted not to. This would have saved thousands of angling industry jobs. Lets bear in mind that humans have pleasure caught bass for the table and release for thousands of years without issue. It is computer aided trawlers that are impacting this species.

    So, this new ruling means that if you are fortunate enough to catch a 42cm fish, that after throwing back, it swims into a gill net, it will be landed, alongside many other bass for a huge profit.

    This isnt about conservation. It is about taxation and restrictions. It will turn law abiding citizens, who opt to keep tehir fish now, rather than buy it in waitrose a week later for £50 – criminals.

    I dont for one moment think that David Cameron realises the extent of anger amongst countryside alliance for this removal of freedom, but it has for one made me think about votingto leave the EU.


  27. Instead increase the minimum size from 42 to 60 cm. And set a limit of 3 fish a day and 6 a week. Not everyone has the time to go fishing with rod and line 6 months of the year.

    Also ban commercial and private fishing in the breading months.

    Raising legal limit size for both parties will sort the stock out. A bag limit of 1 fish a day 6 month of year make it only worth. Local guys will bag all the baby bass and get them picked up by their wifes. Have seen it from East Europeans.

    As long supermarkets and restaurant selling or serving baby bass it will other change. Even if they are farmed they should have a minimum size.

  28. I am a pleasure angler based in the uk, I take my rubbish home from the beach, I don’t take to many fish home and always return catch carefully without throwing it 10ft in the air!
    I have caught very few bass in the last few years but to be honest if I go fishing and catch one I don’t give a toss about European regulations, I didn’t vote to be in Europe and don’t want to be part of the EU, why should foreign commercial fishermen plunder our waters ? it takes money out of our economy and it loses jobs for our commercial fishermen!
    Restricting pleasure anglers from taking home a fish isn’t going to make a mark on reviving bass stocks in the UK 25% of fish caught are by pleasure anglers? what a load of rubbish! if I go fishing 3 times a week all summer and catch 6 bass I feel ive done well! it isn’t that easy to catch bass!!
    I am English, the laws for sea fishing are clearly outlined in the magna carter and that’s what I will abide by, if the government want to implement changes without consulting the british population first then that’s up to them.
    why don’t they do something useful like address the swarms of polish and eastern European anglers that take bagfulls of tiny immature fish home to eat? I would at a guess say more bass stocks are lost this way than through responsible british fisherman! rant over

  29. This is all about taxation not conservation.

  30. Whilst I can symphasise with the genuine rod and line anglers in regard to a zero take limit on Bass for 6 months of the year I am also sic to the back teeth of reading ‘bleats’ about commercial fisherman still being allowed to make a living, the rod and liners and most small licensed vessel owners have wanted conservation measures introduced for years, now we have them, lets suck it and see! I have watched for many years ex anglers that have chucked their rods in the bin and found that it’s much easier than collecting bait to go and buy a heap of drift or gill nets and illegally supplement the bank balance, the practice was/is? rife in the West Cumbrian area, when I recollect on a summers evening having witnessed unlicensed boats heaped up with drift nets and also towing a smaller boat behind them also heaped up with drift nets heading out into Morecambe bay to make a killing and tractors on the beaches laying a trailer load of Gill net, I must say to some of the ‘so called’ recreational anglers, first off, put your own house in order and then direct some of their venom also in the direction of the many unscrupulous dealers making a lucrative living buying ‘black’ fish at way below market value! Also, lets watch out now for the inevitable greater decline in the Grey Mullet stocks.

    PS: From a 62 year old part time Commercial fisherman that has never sold a Bass (or Mullet) in his life!

  31. Thanks Derek I agree proper policing is essential. Unlivenced boats piled high with nets however are illegal commercials and nothing to do with recreational rod and line anglers. There is also every right to complain ( bleat if you wish) when the regulations ignore the scientific advice because politicians water down the advice of the EU commission. Without putting the bass stocks first there will be no bass for commercial fishermen or recreational anglers – Until this happens I for one will bleat on.

    ( BTW I share your concerns for the mullet stocks )

  32. Thanks Matt and I sincerely hope you do (as will I) keep up the good fight,
    The term ‘unlicenced commercials’ is a new one on me and Unfortunately seems a much too polite description for a group of individuals that really should be pursued much more vociferously than they are at present, I wonder what the black tonnage has amounted to? How can we make scientific calculations on the reduction in tonnage when we never have what may be a near accurate figure in the first place? It is important that we all work within the rules and identify those that don’t want to.
    Unfortunately, a willingness or even the capability for enforcement agencies to pursue is sometimes not apparent!

  33. The recently announced regulations of the bass fishery seem to me to be quite absurd. Restricting the numbers of the bass caught by anglers seems more of political expediency than a conservation measure.
    Over the past fifty years both the numbers and size of bass have decreased. This has been put down to over fishing but might we consider that, in the case of this species, the conservation measures imposed over the years may also have had the opposite of the desired effect?

    In the life cycle of any species, the greatest mortality occurs in immaturity. It is more natural for young fish to be predated than adults. It is unnatural for the population of mature breeders to be seriously depleted. Taking out the largest breeding females, while returning immature fish to the sea, has two detrimental effects. A bass lives a long time and mature females can lay something like two hundred thousand eggs a year, so removing them will deplete the potential population by millions. It also affects the fish size by removing from the gene pool those with the greatest potential for growth. The same happened to the massive stocks of cod on the Newfoundland Banks where, apart from being almost wiped out, the size of adults caught has diminished from three meters down to one. Throwing back young bass, often injured and away from the protection of the shoal, serves no conservation purpose whatsoever, throwing back large breeding adults would.
    , N. R. Phillips

  34. N.R Phillips makes one of the most sensible suggestions in the entire bass debate. Throw back big sexually mature fish rather than smaller ones, that in all probability are going to be noshed by otters, seals, cormorants etc.
    Gill netters will catch 1.5lb and 5lb bass in their nets. Most of which will have suffocated already. This means throwing back hundreds of dead juvenile fish to keep a few larger dead adult spawning fish to comply with EU quota. Is that conservation or absolute stupidity. I can tell you for a fact that gill nets can be used with a smaller mesh only to catch smaller fish. For example herring nets catch herring but larger fish literally bounce off this small mesh. I am sure that the fishing industry has a mesh that would prevent larger sexually mature bass being caught. Anglers are under new stupid rules tempted to throw back countless injured fish. Let the anglers keep their first three fish and catch no more thereafter AND throw back anything over X cm for breeding.

  35. Well guys we all got a chance to get out of the EU anyone got any thoughts on the best way to vote for us anglers.

  36. I personally agree with the new measures put into place, I would also like to see drift netting and gill netting banned completely. Perhaps having size restrictions of between 50cm and 60cm would not be a bad idea either.

  37. Hi their could anyone help me does this bass catch and release apply for northern Ireland… Thanks

  38. I have just heard of illegal anglers in Pembrokeshire and on Pendine beach catching and keeping up to six fish each. So why put so much blame on the commercial fishermen when anglers are as guilty. Where are the law enforcers. Surely it is time for prosecutions of anyone who breaks the law the sooner the better to protect stocks it is there to protect our bass .
    The ban has worked wonders in Ireland and catch and release is a norm there.

  39. well the reel ban goes on to the harmless pleasure fisher who stands on a beach all day waiting for one bite in all weathers, thats what I have done for 18 years on the blackpool coast, only ever caught 10 bass off of there in 18 years. An E.U that I never wanted to be a part of, we have a government that could basically tell you what the E.U had for yesterdays breakfast and thats only because its got it head so far up it arse!! well done Mr government you done it again attack the little man if you can not get money out of us buy creating another rod license for sea fishing with one rod and line oh yer and one hook, which did not work because I know that your trying to put a catch quota on the little man, the best part is that D.E.F.R.A have the cheek to ask me for money then to tell me how much I can catch from the 300 yard from the waters edge, I can not even cast that far! but look what happened you gone ahead with it anyway. Fellow Anglers don’t you get it? they just trying to brake you down, make you feel uncomfortable and unhappy for what you have enjoyed for years before. well when we have been harassed enough and none use show on the coast, which is exactly what they want to happen cause we are not paying in one way or another, who is to blame then when there really is no bass or fish left in the sea ?answer= the person with the smallest boat there the problem. and after that its the person with a slightly bigger boat until we end up with the biggest boats and a total crash in fish stocks in all species and we have a repeat of newfoundland, something the government hopes we all forgot about!! This is important 20 odd year since they had an all out ban on commercial fishing and there super murdering ships that where sold off to who??, how come the newfoundland cod stocks have bounced back so much if it not commercial fishing thats doing the damage? harbours black with mature cod ready for spawning as far as the eye can see. Fellow anglers check you tube newfoundland cod fishing. see it for your self the results of no commercial fishing, newfoundlers still say “its no where near as good as it used to be”,there meaning of good is where you quite simply drop a basket in to the sea and lift it out with a load of cod in side it,” but its alot better”, if you ask me it looks a million times better than our irish sea and north sea stocks put together. newfoundland fishermen that remain there considered getting D.E.F.R.A involved in there fisheries management program to which I personally wrote to chief chairman of newfowlands fisheries and advised that they should not get D.E.F.R.A involved in away what so ever especially if they want to keep a recreational fishery and a healthy fish stocks, because D.E.F.R.A will decimate
    your 20 years hard work in a day. Iceland has a recreational fishery and a commercial fishery but its monitored closely and Norway has a recreational fishery with a very limited commercial fleet and they are doing just fine with out E.U and the rest.what does that tell you?

  40. Reading the posts with interest over the last few months and clearly an emotive subject. The irony for me personally is the Bass fishing has never been so good in the Solent and local waters. I have caught more bass over 45 cm in the last 6 months than in the previous 3 years. I personally do not agree with a ban for pleasure anglers but I am respecting it and returning all bass to fight fight another day. I suspect that the average teenager doesn’t even know about the ban as the publicity on this has been poor and no evidence what so ever of an attempt to enforce this. Only time will tell! I was however lucky enough to catch a 5 lb er on new years eve. Tight lines!

  41. The Charter Boat Skippers, the ones who take people angling, were never considered in all this. How can we take people bass fishing when anglers can keep nothing and, after June, keep just one whilst alongside is a commercial fishing boat taking 1300 kg per month. And we are told this is all to do with conservation. It is obvious many anglers and clubs will cancel their trips. For example, I run an angling charter boat. Before the latest announcements my boat was booked every day in Nov 2016 which is our main bassing period. I have received 26 cancellations leaving just four days booked in November. In addition the accommodation bookings have plummeted. Yesterday I spoke to another charter skipper operating in the Thames area. He has already sufferred 60 cancellations. The knock on effect of this is enormous. IF we were all in this together and every sector playing their part under the heading of Conservation then it would be something we could understand and collectively support. But that is not the case. Once again we are divided and these divisions are grossy and insultingly unfair. What happened to the six total no take period? It is no wonder there is so much anger and fraustration over this issue.

  42. Like most red-blooded Englishmen I am happy to blame the EU for anything to do with the fishing industry. I decided to read through the full EU article on bass
    and was surprised to learn that our Conservative government has decided to allocate our entire bass stock to the 30 or so businesses that operate most of the UK fishing fleet.

    The EU Bass article (EU 2015/10 ) says and I quote: Article 22 Recreational & Sports Fisheries ” where appropriate, member states shall allocate a specific quota for recreational and sports fisheries from their quotas allocated in annex ID.
    So what is our allocation?

  43. Hi, I am fairly new to Bass fishing having previously coarse and Game fished for years.
    Last summer i watched a bloke with a fishing rod fishing from the rocks near the Exmouth slipway.I wont call him an Angler. He took two Bass for i would estimate at up to 9lbs. He kept them in a small keep net and continued to fish. When passers by asked him about the fish, he proudly spoke of what they will fetch him at the fishmongers.(There are several near-by). Maybe fishmongers buying off people like him should be policed as well. Nobody needs that amount of fresh fish unless you are doing it to make money. which he obviously was, as he was there several times over the following week.
    People like this get away with it because there is nil policing of it. Who polices it anyway?

    I agree with a previous comment about having size range, sounds sensible to me. Rather than a minimum size. It might help the breeding fish.
    Whenever i read a fishing mag i see lots of pictures of big dead Bass being held aloft by proud anglers. A more catch and release way of thinking is needed with big fish.

    As far as far back as i can recall, whenever i have seen news items/documentaries on TV relating to fishing Quotas, net sizes, by-catch, conservation area, the Commercial fisherman seem to blame everyone but themselves. Its common sense that taking too many fish of any species, throwing away by-catch and not protecting breeding stocks is doomed to fail. Why don’t they get it?

    Thats got that off my chest.

  44. Phil,
    Why did you not report this to the local fisheries office, no point in moaning if we aren’t prepared to act!

  45. Further to my last comment Phil, your local IFCA Office (Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries Commitee) Telephone: 01803854648 or if out of office hours: 07740175479, dead easy! All information available on the IFCA websites.

    Hope this helps and good luck!


  46. Derek,
    Thanks for the info on ICFA. I did wonder who does the policing, the numbers are now in my mobile. I’am even more annoyed by the incident in Exmouth now!
    As i said iam fairly new to Bass fishing and i never realised how much passion/enthusiasm there is in the sport.
    Reading all the previous posts is an eye opener to the battle being fought.

    Thanks again and here’s to a few fish this year.


  47. That’s the way Phil! Let’s hope a few others will be prepared to do the same, all the regional IFCA contact details are on the websites, I say to anyone ‘don’t worry about complaining’ it is the only way to get things sorted.


  48. I have fished for bass on and off for years along the south coast. The numbers of fish and size have declined alarmingly in recent years. This is also confirmed by commercial rod and line fishermen. There is also a practice where fish caught over quota by some boats are passed around to those who don’t have a quota. Many quotas are totally ignored anyway and will not be policed effectively or fairly.
    So unless there is a total ban on commercial bass fishing for several years there really is no hope for bass. The numbers of fish caught by individual sports anglers is minimal and at least can usually be returned alive. It’s the sheer tonnage of fish caught by the commercial fishermen that is unsustainable. The bass are doomed if this is allowed to continue. The EU has been responsible for the murdering our fish by completely mishandling the situation for decades. So stop faffing about and ban it. It probably wouldn’t cost that much to compensate our fishermen in money terms and to mothball the pathetically small fleet. The foreign boats can go hang anyway if we were out of the EU and the money saved from our contributions would pay our fishermen many times over. So probably the only way to achieve this is to get out of the EU.
    Ive always felt the targeting of mature breeding sized fish is stupid. Bass are very slow to mature so only returning undersized fish is unsustainable. Once they are in a commercials net they are dead anyway whatever their size. They are very unlikely to reach maturity and breeding size as they are likely to be caught long before. So stocks could collapse very quickly and by the time we realise it, it will be too late.
    So sad!!

  49. Ilfracombe Trawlers have hit most of the Bass banks in South Wales and were off Woolacombe last year.Boats unload off the quay straight into a Lorry and no checks done,all boxes covered in ice so how do we know what size they are?
    I see the discard taking place about a mile offshore as all the Seagulls swarm around the boat taking the discarded fish.What is being discarded ? as I don’t think we have to legally record waste fish.
    If we leave the EU we can pay our Boats and fishermen to stay in port (as we pay our Farmers to leave fields fallow) and rest areas off our coasts for stocks to breed and the Sea bed to repair.We can have control of our seas again and manage them as the Icelandic government have done,also stop the sale of Boat quotas to foreign boats,U.K. Boats in Uk waters only and ban the sale of Uk licenses to foreign fleets.
    Fed up of having my nose rubbed in it by pissed up Trawlermen in the pub bragging about how many Bass they have caught and how I am restricted in what I can catch,make them buy square nets so they can only catch certain size fish and let’s help towards the cost with some of the money we will save from leaving the Eu.

  50. Are you all bombarding Fisheries Minister George Eustice with such letters and info? Are you writing to your local MP’s expressing your views and demanding a meeting. I hope,you are all writing to the Angling Trust who says they represent your views to DEFRA. I sincerely hope you all are…..we MUST attack the unfairness of these bass restrictions and we need everyone to get involved. The most effective thing you can do is write to those those three above. Demand action to rectify this ridiculous situation.

    Paul Whittall. Chairman of Weymouth and Portland Skippers Association.

  51. The authorities cannot enforce regs on the money grabbing short sighted commercials so how on earth are they going to police the pleasure angler who takes home two bass? It would be a complete joke. When you have a hole in the roof of your home, you don’t just put up an umbrella, you fix the f—— roof. Why have two guys waiting on the beach to stop a kid taking home two bass when a trawler is five hundred metres offshore raping the future of our bass stocks?
    I think the situation will be worse if we’re out of Europe(although i’m not a big fan). Currently the government are obliged to “police their own fisheries. If given a free hand they will just make a case to rid ourselves of this duty under the guise of further austerity cuts.

  52. Ever I drop on you mate I’d like to shake your hand, Last year out of about 14 takable Bass I caught I took 2, just now I can’t take any but the commercial boats can take 1.3 tonnes a month, I think we should have been kissed when they brought that in cos we got F****d AGAIN

  53. Reading all of these comments is remarkable and shows the passion. Unfortunately I am an ageing sceptic and sadly the big money will have its way and the bass (and just about every other fish)annihilation will only stop when there are none left for the commercial boys to harvest. The Europeans have killed everything in the Med and will do the same (along with their Japanese and Chinese friends) in the Atlantic; as we write they are in the process of destroying one of the largest Tuna juvenile grounds in the world in the Gambia river estuary. Sadly my children and certainly my grandchildren will never know the sport we had in the 60’s and more significantly I now know we should have started doing something a lot sooner. Only a complete five year ban on all fishing types in all European waters will same the beautiful bass.

  54. I was recently approached by a Welsh Fisheries officer asking what I have caught while out in my small Boat. He then asked if he could look inside my boat which I agreed.I informed him that I know the laws regarding bringing a Bass to shore.
    I have just asked a question to another fisheries officer saying, If I caught a Bass and decided to Bar B Q it at sea what would be the result. The answer was it is exactly the same as killing it and bringing it to shore. As you are probably aware that I am right against these rules applied to the Bass Sports Angler. Yet they allow commercial Anglers to take more! The figure of 25% of all Bass taken are by the Sports Angler is absolutely ridiculous. If it was 5% I would still say it was ridiculous. That is why I voted out of the EU. At least Ireland has got most of it right. The Bass Sport Fishermen bring a lot more revenue into Ireland than any commercial Fisherman will bring.
    This is all supposed to be about saving Bass stocks but I believe its all about brown envelopes and Spanish,French and other EU countries raping our seas.

  55. Couldn’t agree more. Anyone who thinks anglers make any impact on any species of sea fish must have been hoodwinked by the false statistics being thrown about. The problems with any sea fish stock is caused primarily by commercial fishing. I’ve just come back to fishing and was shocked to learn about the new bass bag limits and closed season applying to anglers. Barking up the wrong tree is the most appropriate expression. I’ve always practised catch and release for most of the bass I catch and taken the odd one for the pot. What we should be doing is promoting this principle within the angling community – that would be sufficient. I’m totally against yet more laws targeting the wrong people. Going back to the stats mentioned in the above post, lets get them verified – now that would be useful. Fishing licenses for sea anglers may be on the way if we’re not careful along with other restrictive legislation. Government is only too happy to control every aspect of people’s lives so it’s very important that we fight to retain what freedom we have left. Seems it’s a bit late for the bass angler – the boat has sailed.

  56. This is how the commercial bass destroyers treat pleasure anglers:

    They spread many unfounded stories about pleasure fisherman’s boats being seized,fines, etc.
    They threaten and intimidate pleasure anglers that may be in their way.
    They abuse and manipulate catch limits and quotas, whilst grassing up pleasure anglers.
    They don’t care about sustainability.
    They dump old netting, plastics,oil, etc at sea.
    As they used to sell a lot of their bass on the black market, they have now been forced to buy up legitimate bass licences, pushing the market price up massively. Just check current licence prices, it shows many were ripping off the system for years, no tax, manipulation of catch quantities,etc.

    This is from personal experience, so cannot be challenged. Obviously not every commercial does everything on the list. What hope do we have with the authorities when they are such bed buddies with the commercials? All this for money!

  57. Quite some accusations there Dave I’m not going to say there’s not truth in what you say but I feel as anglers we have been drawn into the problem of decimated fish stocks and have no part to play in it. Anglers don’t have the capacity in terms of enough hooks in the water, time, chance of actually catching or nor do we take every fish for the pot to do the damage to fish stocks so we should be removed from being involved in the so called solutions such as bag limits closed seasons etc. It’s all very political and could be paving the way to anglers needing to buy a license in the future, a stealth tax you could argue. We need to look at a realistic catch and kill estimates applying to anglers to clear our name. How many anglers taking every bass for the pot would it take and over what period of time to equate to a months commercial quota of what is it a tonne or 1000kg? I’d be lucky if I’ve killed 30kg of bass in my lifetime and I’ve fished for over 40 years.

  58. While I can see the logic of targeting the commercial fishing rather than anglers. I saw some men fishing in shoreham in June of this year catching sooo many fish – I am pretty sure they were sea bass (although wasnt close enough to see for sure) they were at a spot known to be good for sea bass, the size of fish looked like around 20 – 25cm, the fishermen went on and on, filled a big white bucket then started filling a bag as well – it looked a bit greedy somehow. I was initially happy for them to be having such a good day fishing but after a while I thought it was getting a bit much – they didnt put any back.

    I only looked today what the minimum size for sea bass is and was shocked to see its 42cm – I think because the seabass (farmed) you see for sale in supermarkets is closer to the 20-25cm size I didnt realise that for wild caught fish thats too small. These guys certainly didnt keep to a 1 bag limit (or 3 bag which I have read elsewhere)

    Interesting point made earlier that perhaps putting back the large fish rather than the smaller ones might make more sense for increasing numbers?

    The men I saw were not speaking english (language sounded middle-eastern) and may not be aware of uk rules re any limits or that the fish they were catching were immature and that they were damaging future stocks – useful info in earlier posts on who to contact but obviously policing this is tricky – I wonder if there could be signs placed at suitable spots (perhaps using images/symbols with clear meanings so they can be understood by all nationalities?)

    It’s so sad that our fish are declining in numbers – I have personally seen a real decline in fish in the sea off my local beach in Hove, I used to regularly see large shoals of fish jumping in the spring/summer, (I thought most likely mackerel?) It was heartening to see the abundance of them. But I haven’t seen that for years now.

  59. Yes Jenny, your observations sound very familiar in regard to what takes place on a regular basis, the likelihood is that the anglers concerned would most likely be unaware of the species they were ‘bucketing’ anyway, the trouble with DEFRA and Co is that they are great at creating regulations but pretty Shit at giving our enforcement agencies the resource and support to do the job, thanks for highlighting it.
    Derek Clarke.

  60. Thanks for response, am glad to see from this thread that there are many other people like me who are concerned. I am going to try and contact appropriate organisations – if they hear from enough of us maybe something will happen!

  61. There will always be individuals who stand apart from the majority but I don’t think it’s fitting to design legislation/ regulations around the minority. Fact is commercial activities are to blame for the decline in the plentiful supply of fish we may have seen in the past there’s so much evidence to support that view. I’m not aware of any evidence to suggest pleasure anglers having any effect of salt water fish stocks in uk waters. If it could be proven I’d be happy to play any necessary compromise. As it stands anglers are suffering punitive actions to address a situation that is not our doing and which we can have no influence over with our very limited activities with a rod and line.

  62. Nobody checks the catch landed in Ilfracombe harbour and they fish the banks off South Wales, bragging in the pub about how many stone of Bass they have taken and laughing at the one fish rule for us. Report’s of fishing the Estuary off Llanelli in the dark with the lights off. 3 Trawlers in this harbour and all at it for greed

  63. If its the commercial fishing thats the problem is there anything we can do? Publicise the problem and make people more aware? Pressure the authorities to do more?

  64. Funding and policing are woefully inadequate in catching people doing all this type of activity. Catch size at fish markets is controlled but has led to dumping undersized fish at sea. Now illegal catches are slipping through the net if you’ll allow me the expression. What about setting up a whistle blowing helpline if people are seeing and hearing stuff they know to be wrong. It could prompt some spot checks if a name or place are mentioned more than a few times and likely to have credibility. A deterrent as the minimum as it stands. The current situation is only a deterrent to the law abiding.

  65. Update!

    I happened to be at the same spot – same guys were fishing – when two MMO officers turned up, apparently they are keen to protect the young bass. (our area is a sea bass nursery – not an official no-angling nursery, but a known nursery site)

    They spoke to the two men (locals who happened to be there told me that these same guys are repeat offenders and once time 4 buckets full each! – also said they were selling them – also that these two have pretended not to understand english at times when challenged – at other times have spoken english perfectly well and sworn at challengers and said they can do what they like!)

    To the MMO officers the men said they were not planning to take home an illegal catch, however later in the day action was taken against them (I think they were arrested) by the MMO because their actions didn’t match their words (ie when they thought the officers were gone they carried on as usual)

    Perhaps MMO are worth contacting with info on illegal trawling/overfishing? (eg in the Estuary off Llanelli as mentioned in this thread) apparently MMO have more powers than some of the other organisations – at this url there is a list of the MMO offices – scroll down to the bottom of the web page:

    I asked one of the officers a couple of the points raised on this thread – whether not allowing small bass to be fished but allowing large ones to be caught makes sense due to the large ones being the ones that would reproduce and the small ones cant anyway. Reply was that by the time a bass is 42cm it has had approx 3 years of reproductive life – he reckoned they can reproduce from about 36cm.

    I didn’t catch the full answer re the commercial vs angler issue (which I also raised) but I think he said that commercial fishermen don’t bother with the areas where the smaller bass are, seemed to think that that made them less of a threat? – will ask again to clarify if I ever see them again!

  66. Nice one! Yes don’t ever be shy in making the MMO aware of possible contraventions to the bylaws, that’s what they are there for and sometimes need prodding into action, the last thing they want is Joe public regarding them as ‘ineffective’.

Leave a Reply