European Seabass – Dicentrarchus labrax

Version number: 2.0

Management plan review date: April 2013




Date updated: February 2020

Fishery location: Across the district

Fishing Gear: Recreational Sea Angling, drift/gill nets and light trawls

Season: all year

Primary Management Tool: EU 1380/2013

Lead Regulator: EU, MMO

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.


Species Summary


Socio Economic Importance

Being a higher value fish a lot of effort is placed upon Bass during the summer months as a sport fish provide a

Ecological Importance

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 in important predator of small crustaceans and squid.

Spatial Distribution


Biology & Habitat

Stock, CPUE, & Landings Information

Current stock levels in the Kent and Essex IFCA district are unknown as is CPUE. Recent estimates from the Sea Angling 2012 survey done nationally indicates that significant catches of bass are retained by sea anglers of up to 440 tonnes but that commercial fishery landings in 2012 in the UK totalled 897 tonnes.

Current Research

Research is currently being done on a national basis to look at stocks. No research is currently underway in the Kent and Essex IFCA district.

Potential Future Research

Catches may be reported by anglers

Current Management Measures

Bass nursery areas and EU minimum landing size.

Potential Future Management Measures

Current Enforcement Effort



Officers undertake both shore-based and sea-based enforcement. Intelligence is collected by officers conducting regular patrols both at sea and ashore.



Potential Future Enforcement Effort

VMS is currently being widely considered for all fishing vessels and is something which could provide an addition to the current enforcement effort. VMS would enable targeted patrols when vessels were known to be active which would improve efficiency and be in line with maintaining a risk-based enforcement approach.

Available Literature

EA Fish ID Key

MAFF report on- The identification and separation of wild-caught and cultivated sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

Pawson, M., G. 1995. Biogeographical identification of English Channel fish and shellfish stocks. Fisheries Research Technical Report (number 99), MAFF Direct Fisheries Research Lowestoft, England. Available from: