Revised measures on vessels catching European Seabass are to be introduced on 30 July 2021, changing bycatch limits and introducing short-based netting bycatch.

These measures amend Article 10 (measures on European seabass fisheries) of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/123 and adjust the level of European seabass that may be caught as a by-catch British fisheries limits, in particular in the English and Welsh zones. They also revoke legislation relevant to Celtic Sea technical measures, which apply within English and Welsh waters, to enable more responsive management and allow improved measures to be brought in through vessel licensing.

Union vessels and commercial fisheries from shore will not be permitted to fish for European seabass in ICES divisions 4b and 4C, and in ICES subarea 7. Retention, transhipment, relocation or landing of European seabass caught in this area is also prohibited.

This rule does not apply to bycatch using inshore-based fixed gillnets (gear codes GTR, GNS, GNC, FYK, FPN and FIX) that are not set from a vessel of up to:

  • 26 nets in relation to the NWIFCA district
  • 5 nets in relation to the NEIFCA district
  • 1 net in relation to the D&SIFCA district
  • up to 50 nets in the Welsh zone.

A derogation continues to apply regarding vessels in ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 7d, 7e, 7f and 7h and in waters within 12 nautical miles from baselines in ICES divisions 7a and 7g may fish for European seabass, and retain, tranship, relocate or land European seabass caught in that area with the following gear and within the following limits:
In so far as those ICES divisions are in the English or Welsh zones –

  • using demersal trawls, for unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 380 kilogrammes per month and 5% of the weight of the total catches of marine organisms on board caught by that vessel per fishing trip,
  • using seines, for unavoidable by-catches not exceeding 380 kilogrammes per month and 5% of the weight of the total catches of marine organisms on board caught by that vessel per fishing trip,
  • using hooks and lines, not exceeding 5.7 tonnes per vessel per year,
  • using fixed gillnets, for by-catches not exceeding 1.4 tonnes per vessel per year.

Only those vessels with an existing authorisation to fish for European Seabass are permitted to do so, subject to the revised limits referenced.

The detailed guidance on the MMO’s webpage will be updated soon with further information, but if you have any questions concerning these measures in the interim, you should contact the MMO on 0330 123 1032 or by email to info@marinemanagement.org.uk.

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