Sea bass stocks seem to be improving, but we must continue to fish sustainably.

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First published:
18 February 2019
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Scientific advice shows an improvement in the biomass of the European sea bass stock. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has advised a total catch of 1780 tonnes in 2019. This is a noted increase on previous years. Some catch allowances have been increased for commercial fishing vessels in 2019. Only hook and line fisheries can target sea bass. Restrictions on other fishing methods are in place to reduce unavoidable by-catch limits.

Guidance on commercial sea bass fishing measures in 2019

The European Agriculture and Fisheries Council has agreed to some restrictions. These apply to catches of sea bass in all European waters.

Commercial fishing

In order to fish commercially for sea bass:

  • UK fishing vessels must have a ‘bass authorisation’. This is issued by us, or another UK Fisheries Administration. These are based on a track records of bass landings during the period 1 July 2015 to 30 September 2016
  • bass authorisations may be transferred to a replacement vessel within the same ownership. There must be no increase in tonnage or engine power
  • commercial fishing for sea bass from the shore is not allowed
  • before you buy a new fishing boat to fish for bass, contact your local fishery office. You should check if the vessel has a valid bass authorisation, and if it can be transferred to you
  • bass is not subject to the landings obligation. If a bass is below the minimum catch reference size of 42cm or exceeds the landings quota, it must be immediately discarded back into the sea.
  • a total closure period from February and March 2019 will apply to all methods of fishing

Catch restrictions for authorised vessels

These limits apply on any single day.

All types of demersal trawls:

  • no more than 400kg of unavoidable by-catch during each 2 month period
  • no more than 1% of the weight of the total catch of marine organisms on board caught by that vessel in any single day

Using Seines:

  • there is a 210kg per month limit for unavoidable by-catch
  • no more than 1% of the weight of the total catch of marine organisms on board caught by that vessel in any single day

Hooks and lines:

  • a total of 5.5 tonnes per vessel per year

Fixed gill nets:

  • 1.4 tonnes per vessel per year as an unavoidable by-catch

Recreational fishing

A bag limit of one fish per day per person from 1 April to 31 October 2019 will apply. This includes from the shore.