UK bass legislation
Update: 1st February 2016
In accordance with Council Regulation (EU) 2016/72 Article 10 the following now applies to recreational fisheries.
“From 1 January to 30 June 2016 in recreational fisheries in ICES divisions IVb, IVc, VIIa and from VIId to VIIh, only catch-and-release fishing for sea bass, including from shore, shall be allowed. During this period, it shall be prohibited to retain on board, relocate, tranship or land sea bass caught in that area.”
“In recreational fisheries, including from shore, not more than one specimen of sea bass may be retained per fisherman per day during the following periods and in the following areas:
- from 1 July to 31 December 2016 in ICES divisions IVb, IVc, VIIa and from VIId to VIIh;
- from 1 January to 31 December 2016 in ICES divisions VIIj and VIIk.“
© European Union
For further information see here
Update: 1st September 2015
New restrictions on bass come into effect on 1st September 2015. This includes a new Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS) of 42cm and a daily 3 fish bag limit per person for recreational anglers.
For further information please see
The following information is taken from Bass: nursery areas and other conservation measures published by MAFF, now Defra in 1990, with additional legislation introduced in 1999.
Minimum landing sizes
Any bass landed, stored, sold, displayed or offered for sale, and taken from the waters surrounding the United Kingdom, must be at least 36cm in length as measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail fin. Any bass retained on board a vessel or transhipped must also exceed 36cm. These provisions apply to both commercial fishermen and anglers. Any bass below 36cm must be returned immediately to the sea.
The minimum landing size of 36cm applies to all bass taken from regions 2 and 3 of [European] Community waters, stretching from north of the Shetlands to Gibraltar. This requirement forms part of the European Community’s technical measures for the conservation of fisheries resources (Council Regulation (EEC) No.3094/86 as amended by Council Regulation (EEC) No.4056/89). Note: higher size limits have been implemented locally by some Sea Fisheries Committees, for example 37.5cm in Cornwall.
Mesh size controls
The use of gill and similar enmeshing nets, with a mesh size between 71 and 89mm, is prohibited within British fishery limits lying south of lines of latitude drawn through Haverigg Point in Cumbria on the west coast and Donna Nook in Lincolnshire on the east coast. Exemptions exist for:
- the carriage of any nets which are properly lashed and stowed
- the carriage of drift nets, beach seines, and ring nets or the use of such nets where they are attended in that area of sea bounded by a line beginning at the southernmost point of Portland Bill (002º27‘18″ west longitude); thence due south to 050º30‘00″ north latitude; thence due east to 000º47‘06″ west longitude; thence due north to the southernmost tip of Selsey Bill.
These mesh size controls apply to gill nets, beach seines, trammel nets, tangle nets, stake nets, drift nets, ring nets, T nets, J nets, hoop nets and any similar nets used for the enmeshing or entrapment of fish, but not to trawls, Danish seines or any similarly towed nets. The legislation is, The Sea Fish (Specified Sea Area) (Regulation of Nets and Prohibition of Fishing Methods) Order 1989: SI1989 No.1284, amended by, The Sea Fish (Specified Sea Area) (Regulation of Nets and Prohibition of Fishing Methods) (Variation) Order 1999, Statutory Instrument 1999 No. 74.
These controls do not override any more restrictive measures such as the byelaws of local Sea Fisheries Committees (whose jurisdiction extends out to the 3 mile limit) or of the Environment Agency [National Rivers Authority].
Bass Nursery Areas
Fishing for bass from any vessel, as well as, fishing for any species of sea-fish using sand-eels (ammodytidae) as bait, is prohibited in 37 separate areas for all or part of the year. These areas, their extent and the seasonal duration of the prohibition are set out below. The legislation is Statutory Instrument 1999 No 75 The Bass (Specified Areas) (Prohibition of Fishing) (Variation) Order 1999).
The nursery areas comprise river estuaries, harbours and power station outfalls where juvenile bass usually predominate and are more easily caught, particularly during the summer months. In certain nursery areas, fishing may also be subject to other restrictions implemented by the local sea fisheries committee or the Environment Agency [National Rivers Authority]. Such restrictions may include prohibitions on the setting of fixed nets or restrictions on the use of mobile gear.
The prohibition on bass fishing in nursery areas does not apply to fishing from the shore. However it is expected that shore anglers and their associations will respect the need for this prohibition and return to the sea any bass caught within nursery areas.
Location of bass nursery areas
|The Bass nursery area||Description of area||Period applying in 1990 and subsequent years|
|1.Blyth power station||All tidal waters enclosed by a line in the south bearing 108.5º true from the Blyth Power Station chimneys in transit, to the east by a line bearing 173.5º true from a transit of the Alcan Power Station chimney and the western pylon of the northern pair of measured mile markers and to the north by a line bearing 111º true being a transit of the yellow “X” Northumberland Water Authority pipeline markers||all year|
|2.Bradwell power station||The area between the Baffle Wall and the Bradwell foreshore enclosed by lines drawn perpendicular (145º true) from the NE and SW corners of the Baffle Wall to the shore||all year|
|3.Grain power station||The area enclosed by a line drawn 120º true through Grain Martello Tower and Grain Hard buoy to Garrison point, and a line drawn 114º true from the foreshore at Grain power station to the western extremity of the Ro-Ro terminal, and the Isle of Grain and Sheerness foreshores||all year|
|4.Kingsnorth power station||The area enclosed by Bee Ness jetty and a line drawn 204º true to the tip of Oakham Ness jetty, thence 260º true to the SE tip of Kingsnorth jetty, and along the seaward arm of Kingsnorth jetty and then 298º true to the Kingsnorth power station foreshore||all year|
|5.Dungeness power station||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 180º true from the eastern end of the Dungeness ‘A’ building to a point 600 m below MLW springs, thence 270º true for a distance of 1 km, thence 000º true to the shore marked by an isolated building “hangar B1” situated between the Dungeness ‘B’ complex and the power station||all year|
|6.Chichester harbour||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 192º true from Eastoke point to Chichester Bar beacon, then 078º true to Cakeham tower||between 30 april and 1 november|
|7.Langstone harbour||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 153º true from the Gunnery Range light at Eastney point to Langstone Fairway buoy (50º 46.25N 01º 01.27W), then 033º true to the foreshore east of Gunner point||between 30 april and 1 november|
|8.Portsmouth harbour||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn from Gilkicker point to Southsea castle||between 30 april and 1 november|
|9.Southampton water||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 090º true from the Cadland foreshore to the Warsash foreshore passing through the north-west extremity of the Esso tanker jetty but excluding those waters above the Redbridge causeway on the river Test||between 30 april and 1 november|
|10.Fawley power station||The area enclosed by a circle drawn with a radius of 556 metres around the outfall from Fawley power station||all year|
|11.Poole harbour||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 011º true from Jerry’s point, through Branksea castle to Salterns pier||between 30 april and 1 november|
|12.The Fleet||all tidal waters of the Fleet inside Ferry bridge||all year|
|13.River Exe, Devon||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 068º true from Langstone point to Orcombe point||between 30 april and 1 november|
|14.River Teign||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 000º true from the Ness to the southernmost leading light||between 30 april and 1 november|
|15.River Dart, Devon||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 064º true from Combe point to Inner Froward point||between 30 april and 1 january|
|16.Salcombe harbour||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 090º true from Splat point to Limebury point||between 30 april and 1 january|
|17.River Avon, Devon||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 206º true from Warren point at Bigbury-on-sea to Burgh island, and a line drawn 090º true from the southern tip of Burgh island to the coast||between 30 april and 1 january|
|18.River Yealm||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 205º true from Season point to Mouthstone point||between 30 april and 1 january|
|19.Plymouth rivers||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn from the western end of Mountbatten pier 268º true to the landing beacon at Wilderness point in the river Tamar||all year|
|20.River Fowey||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 270º true from Penleath point to the opposite shore||between 30 april and 1 january|
|21.Fal estuary||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 045º true from Weir point to Turnaware point||between 30 april and 1 january|
|22.Percuil river||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 151º true from St Mawes castle to Carricknath point||between 30 april and 1 january|
|23.Helford river||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 199º true from Rosemullion head to Dennis head||between 30 april and 1 january|
|24.Camel estuary||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 020º true from Stepper point to Pentire point||between 30 april and 1 december|
|25.River Torridge||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 290º true from Zeta berth to the opposite shore||between 30 april and 1 november|
|26.River Taw||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 190º true from the western end of Braunton pill to the site of the former power station at Yelland||between 30 april and 1 november|
|27.Aberthaw power station||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn at a radius of 1 nautical mile from Breaksea point||all year|
|28.Burry inlet||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 071º true from Whiteford lighthouse to Llanelli docks and a line drawn 180º true from Whiteford lighthouse to the shore||between 30 april and 1 november|
|29.Taf, Tywi and Gwendraeth estuary||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 119º true from Ginst point to Pen Towyn point||between 30 april and 1 november|
|30.Milford Haven||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn from the shore along the eastern side of the Texaco Terminal approach jetty to the southernmost part of the T jetty thence eastwards along the southern edge of the jetty to the extremity at No. 3 berth (51º 41.87N, 04º 57.58W) and then 098º true through the Pennar beacon to the Llanreath foreshore (51º 41.55N, 04º 57.58W) and by a line drawn 162º true along the seaward side of the Pembroke to Neyland road bridge||between 30 april and 1 november|
|31.Teifi estuary||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn from the boathouse, Penrhyn to the Cliff hotel, Gwbert||between 30 april and 1 november|
|32.River Dyfi||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 168º true from Trefeddian hotel (52º 32.8N, 04º 03.6W) to the flag pole at Ynys Las (52º 31.4N, 04º 03.8W)||between 30 april and 1 november|
|33.River Mawddach||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 226º true from the flagpole at Barmouth (52º 43.1N, 04º 03.1W) to the perch at 52º 42.7N, 04º 03.7W thence 155º true to the corner of the sea wall at Fairbourne (52º 42.5N, 04º 03.6W)||between 30 april and 1 november|
|34.Dwyryd/Glaslyn estuary||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 152º true from the White House (52º 54.4N, 04º 09.1W) to Harlech point (52º 53.7N, 04º 08.5W)||between 30 april and 1 november|
|35.Conwy estuary||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn in a northerly direction from Penmaen-bach point 001º true to the most westerly point of Great Ormes head||between 30 april and 1 november|
|36.Dee estuary||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 213º true from Hilbre point to Mostyn quay||between 31 may and 1 october|
|37.Heysham power station||All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 085º true from No. 7 buoy (54º 01.22N, 002º 56.28W) to the shore, a line drawn 020º true from No. 7 buoy towards the Dolphin (54º 02.40N, 02º 55.52W), and a line drawn 102º true through the leading lights to Heysham harbour||all year|
Responsibility for the enforcement of the measures outlined above rests with the fisheries departments and their sea fisheries inspectorate. The inspectorate is assisted by the officers of local sea fisheries committees who are empowered to enforce both national and community conservation measures.
Fishing for Profit
Any United Kingdom owned vessel fishing for profit must be registered as a fishing vessel under Part II of the Merchant Shipping Act 1988.
Pair trawling ban in Western Channel (within UK 12 mile limit)
An Order was made on 22 december 2004 closing the pelagic bass pair trawl fishery in the western Channel within 12 miles of the coast of England to reduce cetacean bycatch. An amendment order was made on 13 january 2005 to ensure smaller pair trawlers may continue to participate in a fishery for which no dolphin bycatch had been identified. Both orders have been published via Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
Work by the Sea Mammal Research Unit, funded by Defra, trialled the use of exclusion grids to try and reduce bycatch. The research showed that there is no easy or early technical solution to reducing the bycatch in this fishery through the use of such devices. The order will only affect those using pelagic pair trawls targeting bass within 12 miles of the coast of England within ICES area VIIe. Other bass fisheries, such as gillnetting and hand lining, and pair trawl fisheries targeting other species will be able to continue.
The intention to act in this way was announced by Ben Bradshaw, Fisheries Minister on 27 september 2004. Consultation with interested parties took place in october – november on the terms of the prohibition outlined in the draft Statutory Instrument. The consultation period was limited to 3 weeks and was mainly intended to ensure that the technical detail of the prohibition correctly targeted those vessels about which there had been concern. Responses highlighted that vessels under 221kw are capable of pair trawling for bass and this derogation has now been removed. The results of Defra’s assessment of the potential impact of the proposed legislation is available in this explanatory memorandum and regulatory Impact Assessment published on the HMSO legislation website.
The UK Government also wrote to the Commission requesting that it acts under (Article 9 of Council Regulation EC (No) 2371/2002) to extend this closure to vessels of other Member States who have access to this area. Read a copy of that letter.
As a result of that letter, the Commission wrote to France requesting that the French Government also impose a ban on pair trawling within their territorial waters. So far the French Government has declined to act, despite continuing pressure from organisations such as Greenpeace and Collectif Bar Europeén (CBE- French equivalent of BASS)