European Seabass – Dicentrarchus labrax

Version number: 2.0

Management plan review date: April 2013




Date updated: September 2015

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


From March 2015, in recreational fisheries not more than three specimens of sea bass may be retained per person per day.

From 1 July 2015, in the following areas a monthly catch limit will apply depending on the gear(s) a vessel uses:

  • ICES divisions IVb, IVc, VIId, VIIe VIIf and VIIh
  • waters within 12 nautical miles from baseline under the soverignity of the United Kingdom in ICES divisions VIIa and VIIg

The limits for each gear type are as in the table below:

Gear category and code Maximum catch of sea bass permitted per vessel per calendar month (in kg)
Mid water or pelagic trawls, including OTM and PTM 1,500
All types of demersal trawls including Danish / Scottish seines, including OTB, OTT, PTB, TBB, SSC, SDN, SPR, SV, SB, SX, TBN, TBS, TB 1,800
All GN, all drift net and fixed (trammel) net fisheries, including GTR, GNS, GND, FYK, FPN, FIX 1,000
All long lines or pole and line or rod and line fisheries, including LHP, LHM, LLD, LL, LTL, LX LLS 1,300
Purse seines, gear codes PS, LA 3,000

The limits apply to all vessel lengths and apply to the combined catches from any of the relevant ICES areas during a calendar month. For vessels which use multiple gear types during a calendar month the lowest catch limit for any of those gears used will apply.




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: