Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society

Fighting for Bass and Bass Anglers’ since 1973

Science Group Update – September 2022

Fisheries Industry Science Partnership (FISP) scheme

The FISP scheme aims to improve and share knowledge of fisheries and aquaculture by funding data collection and research to support sustainable fisheries management. This scheme is designed to foster partnerships with scientific organisations to help support the ‘industry’ (including recreational fishing). Contracts of up to £300,000 are available to carry out a full research project.

BASS has been approached by three Universities as potential partners in FISP schemes.

Essex University

This project will study connectivity between coastal nursery habitats and adult populations in the southern UK and develop a European bass tissue bank.

There is little nursery habitat information about bass and little understanding of the relative productivity of different nursery habitats, e.g. estuaries vs coastal bays, to the parental stock. Emergence of novel genomic technologies allows cost-effective investigations of fine-scale connectivity between areas and life-history stages, as an alternative to tagging studies.

This project will create a tissue bank of muscle, eye lens, and otolith samples from juvenile and adult bass sampled across inshore nursery areas and the offshore fishery. We will use muscle samples to investigate genetic connectivity between areas and life stages (juveniles versus adults). In time, this tissue bank will provide unique opportunities to answer additional questions about other life history phenomena, for example, sub-lethal effects of pollution and habitat-specific growth rates using otolith and lens chemistry. To maximise utility across wider non-quota species, and as bass share nursery areas with other data-poor species, such as mullets, we will also archive tissues from co-occurring fish species for future analyses.

BASS input would involve helping with juvenile fish surveys and catching adult bass in offshore (more than 1 mile from the coast) locations through our members, supporters and contacts. Members of the Science group will also be involved in attending meetings, contributing to reports etc.

The University has submitted a bid for funding, including a Letter of Intent from BASS as a partner organisation. We await the outcome of this.

Plymouth University

This project will identify important juvenile fish habitats, and look at how juvenile fish move around estuaries at different states of tide and stages in their lifecycle. We think this will involve estuaries in the southwest, including the Fal and Helford in Cornwall, and the Tamar and Erme in Devon. The National Mullet Club would also be involved as partners.

A key part of the project will involve assisting with the running of current juvenile bass surveys, such as the one we run in Cornwall, and developing a model for future surveys both here and in other parts of the Country.

Work will involve juvenile fish sampling using seine nets, and acoustic tagging of slightly larger bass (2-3 year-olds), caught using fixed (e.g. Fyke) nets and potentially by rod and line. Science Group members will be involved in attending meetings, helping with documentation etc.

The University are hoping to submit a bid for funding in the next round in August.

Bangor University

We have had preliminary discussions with the University regarding a potential project.

Bangor have been working on identifying the timing and location of bass spawning in Welsh waters.  They have found the spawning times around Wales to be later than the closed season and identified possible northern and inshore spawning occurring. They would now like to ground truth the model by going to the possible spawning sites at spawning time and catching bass to see if there are spawners present. They discussed working with bass anglers to do this.

Also discussed was the possibility of conducting a questionnaire/survey to look at the impact of possible increase in MCRS for both the commercial and recreational sector. They also discussed looking at the impact of a change in closed season as a result of the finding of later spawning around Wales.

We wait to see what definite plans the university has to take this forward, and how we may be able to help, bearing in mind commitments to other projects.

Bursary scheme

We were pleased to make our first BASS Bursary award to Joe Sargent from Portsmouth University recently.

Joe is investigating the life stages, abundance and diversity of fish found in seagrass in the Solent. Maximising bass recruitment is as important as controlling fishing effort, and understanding how such important habitats as seagrass contributes to this is very important.

The funding provided (£990) is a contribution to data logging, fish welfare and camera equipment that’s essential to the project‘s investigations.


C-Bass (Population studies in support of the conservation of the European sea bass) was a Defra funded project that ran from 2013 – 2020.

The overall aim was to achieve a more comprehensive overview of bass stock structure and distribution, and to better understand the life-history movements of bass.

C-Bass has established a clear spatial picture of the fishing pressures on bass, and how fishing mortality is generated by the distribution and movements of the fish relative to fishing pressure zones. Adult bass migrate annually to offshore waters where international fleets operate, but tend to return to the same coastal locations where persistent localized depletion could potentially occur dependent on the fishing effort exerted there.

A synopsis of the report has been prepared by the Science Group, and a blog summarising the key points is available. The C-Bass project has both confirmed and extended knowledge of the migrations, stock structure and distribution, spawning and recruitment of bass. This information will hopefully be useful in informing the development of the Bass Fisheries Management Plan.

Catch recording scheme

 Just a reminder that the catch recording scheme is open to all members at any stage of the year.  An article about the scheme appeared in the last BASS mag. For more information please contact the Science Lead via email:


 If you would like to know the age of that special fish, or to help with bass research, please send in some scales from the occasional fish. The contact details for our scale recorder, Richard Strudwick, can be found on the inside front cover of the BASS mag.

Juvenile bass surveys

Bass members have again been involved in surveys in Cornwall. A report on the findings will appear in a later magazine, after the surveys finish at the end of September.

We await the report from the 2021 Cefas Solent survey.


Do have a look at the BASS blog. Recent posts have covered BOFFFFs (Big Old Fat Fecund Female Fish), Bass in Seagrass and Bass Growth Rates.

Come and join us

There is an open invitation to any member who would like to join the Science Group. Apart from the occasional Zoom meeting, all our interaction are online, via a dedicated Loomio chat group. You can dip in and out of this as time, and inclination, permits. If you’d like to join the team, or just find out a bit more about what we do, please contact the Science Lead as above. You don’t need to be a scientist – just interested in bass science.