Restrictions for recreational bass fishing 2021

The government has rolled over the 2020 bass fishing measures into 2021 as we wait an outcome from the EU-UK partnership agreement. This means recreational anglers will be required to release any bass caught in January and February and will be limited to two bass per day from March until November. However, this may be amended in spring 2021 to take into account any changes and adjustments after negotiations are carried out with the EU. The Angling Trust will keep you updated over the course of 2021.

Bass stocks (June 2020)

The latest advice from ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) regarding bass stocks shows that the stock has increased slightly (by 5%), but is still only just above the critical level, and still in need of emergency measures to prevent collapse. Although fishing mortality had reduced, it will take several years (i.e. till beyond 2022) to reach a safe level, even if no fish were caught. Recruitment of fish to the stock has been patchy; there have been some promising year classes (2013, 2014 & 2016), but 2017 and 2019 were only fair or reasonable, and 2018 was a near total failure (according to our juvenile bass surveys in Cornwall).

Sea angling in the UK (June 2020)

The long-awaited report entitled Participation, catches and economic impact of sea anglers resident in the UK in 2016 & 2017 has finally been published. I was one of the anglers who participated in this survey, keeping an online diary, recording activity, catches and spend on a regular basis.

On average 823,000 UK residents went sea angling. The total number of fish caught in 2017 was 54.5 million, with 80% of these being released; 7% of the fish caught were bass. The total spend per angler in 2017 was £1742. The total economic impact of sea angling was £1.94 billion, supporting around 16,300 jobs.

Restrictions for recreational bass fishing 2020:

In recreational fisheries, including from shore, in ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 6a, 7a to 7k:

(a) from 1 January to 29 February and from 1 to 31 December 2020, only catch- and-release fishing with a rod or a handline for European seabass shall be allowed. During that period, it shall be prohibited to retain, relocate, tranship or land European seabass caught in that area;

(b) from 1 March to 30 November 2020, not more than two specimen of European seabass may be caught and retained per fisherman per day. The minimum size of European seabass retained shall be 42 cm.

In recreational fisheries in ICES divisions 8a and 8b, a maximum of 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.

Click here for map showing ICES divisions.

Changes to EU regs regarding minimum sizes (Oct 2019)

Following recent changes to EU regulations, there are no longer any European minimum sizes for sea fish applied to recreational fishing. However, the MMO has said it will apply the 42cm MCRS for bass to recreational fishing. If in doubt, consult your local Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

BASS recommends a minimum landing size of 48cm. This is the minimum bass breeding size of 42cm plus one year’s further growth. This should enable all bass taken to have bred once before they are harvested.