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Bass (European)

Dicentrarchus labrax

Bass are a streamline bodied fish with a large head and mouth. They have small silver scales covering their body and two dorsal fins, the front one having 8-9 sharp spiny rays. Spines are also noticeable on the lower part of the gill plate. Bass are found sub-tidally down to around 100 m around most of the UK. Young fish are often found schooling in shallow waters, estuaries and the lower reaches of rivers as is commonly seen in the Kent and Essex IFCA district. Larger adult bass are found in deeper water usually but come closer inshore to warmer waters from March to Mid-June peaking in May after spawning. Bass are a relatively slow growing species with males reaching minimum landing size at a mean age of 4 years and females from 5 years in the UK.

Bass is a schooling predator of smaller fish species such as members of the herring family, sandeels and other small schooling fish. They are also an important predator of small crustaceans and squid playing an important part of food chains in estuaries and coastal waters.

Commercial bass regulations for ICES areas in the KEIFCA district (IVc and VIId):

(a) demersal trawls: unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 520 kilogrammes per two months and 5 % weight of total catches of marine organisms on board caught by that vessel per fishing trip
(b) seines: same as demersal trawls
(c) hooks and lines: not exceeding 5.7 tonnes per vessel per year
(d) fixed gillnets: unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 1.4 tonnes per vessel per year

Recreational bass regulations for ICES areas in the KEIFCA district (IVc and VIId):

1 January 2020- 29 February 2020 and 1 – 31 December 2020, only catch-and-release fishing with a rod or a handline for European seabass shall be allowed. During those periods, it shall be prohibited to retain, relocate, tranship or land European seabass
(a) 1 March 2020 – 30 November 2020, not more than two specimens of European seabass may be caught and retained per fisherman per day; the minimum size of European seabass retained shall be 42 cm.

North Sea                                   IVb, IVc
Channel                                      VIId, VIIe
Celtic Sea                                    VIIf, VIIg*
Irish Sea                                      VIIa*
South West Approaches          VIIh
(*Inside UK 12nm limit only)